Friday, July 31, 2015


Because of our record rainfall, this has been a good year to discover just how well the various tomato varieties will (or won't) perform.  While there are NO tomatoes producing as they should, or escaping blight problems, some are more promising than others.  

I tried two heirloom tomatoes, Mr. Stripey and Black Krim.  Mr. Stripey obviously doesn't like wet weather.  We have not had one bite of a tomato from that plant, and the way things are going, we won't.  The Black Krim is producing a few large fruits. They really are tasty, but Cliff doesn't like them because they are ugly.  However, the taste is like that of the old Ponderosa tomatoes I used to love so well:  Low-acid, large, and meaty.  Sort of a beefsteak tomato... and I believe I've found one of those I will try again:  Brandy Boy Hybrid.  It isn't doing the greatest this year, but I believe it will do well in a "normal" year.  It bears large, meaty fruits that taste like my Ponderosa.  Oh, how sweet it will be to taste such a tomato again.

My main tomato crop is made up of Celebrity plants, which normally survive the curse of blight to a great extent.  They are giving me some fruits, but in a normal year I would have canned dozens of quarts and be giving tomatoes away.  I won't be canning tomatoes this year.  

I tried two other new hybrids, the most promising of which is Big Daddy.  Twenty years ago I would plant two varieties of tomatoes in my garden:  Big Boy and Rutgers.  Because of blight, I gave up on both of those, but I believe Big Boy lives again in the Big Daddy plants!  None have ripened, but there are HUGE green tomatoes there, and while the plants have quite a bit of blight, it isn't as bad as the others, and so far none of the green tomatoes have spots on them... did I say they are HUGE?  The other new variety I sampled is Cloudy Day hybrid.  It's handling the blight as well as could be expected, but the tomatoes are pretty small.

So, next year, God willing that I live to see it and can still walk to the garden, I'll plant Celebrity as a main crop (as usual) and Big Daddy and Brandy Boy for the table.  I noticed that a search on the Burpee site no longer brings up the Cloudy Day hybrid, so I imagine it was a colossal failure with everyone.  I don't mind cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes, but I don't especially want a plum-sized tomato.

There you have it, a tomato review from a mediocre gardener.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Meet Erin, as I answer her milking questions

Someone who had never commented on my blog left her first comment the other day.  Since the name she uses to comment on Blogger is Erin from Iowa, I left a question for her in the same comment section, asking in what part of Iowa she lives.  She came back with this response, still in the comment section: 
"Hello again! I live in a loft style apartment in downtown Des Moines,Iowa. My three daughters also live in DSM with their families. I am deaf and lip read. I have lots of windows so I enjoy gardening with my houseplants. I also keep busy cooking, baking, reading, knitting, sewing, the list goes on. One good thing reading your blog did for me was made me realize I could get a breast reduction. Which I did in 2008. Five pounds off each side! I tell folks get two five pounds bags of flour and hold them to your chest. That's what it was like. So I thank you for being so forthcoming and helping others. :)"

I don't get nearly as many comments in my comment section as I once did, chiefly because I share each entry on Facebook as soon as I finish it.  (That's too soon, because I often find myself fixing typos and correcting stupid mistakes after several people have read it, but being polite folks, they don't say anything.)  These days most of the comments on my entries are on the Facebook update.  So this was a nice surprise, and a reminder that you never know whose life you may be influencing.

On my last entry, she posted some questions.  Being a city gal, she doesn't know any of the old-timey farm basics, and was curious.  So I'll answer those questions for her and my other "townie" readers.
"Do you have a post showing the steps taken to home pasteurize milk? How to get the cream off? How to store the milk and cream. You never know when city folk might find a source for the real deal."

If you click on THIS LINK, you will see how to pasteurize milk at home.  If you want to spend $400 or so, you can order a pasteurizer (click HERE).  

Around here, we drink raw milk.  Yes, we do.  In the interest of world health, let me give you a warning from our government, because we all know they have our best interests in mind:  

Why raw milk is dangerous

Raw milk can carry harmful bacteria and other germs that can make you very sick or kill you. Yes, it’s true that it’s possible to get “food poisoning” or foodborne illnesses from many foods, but raw milk is one of the riskiest of all. Raw milk and products made from raw milk (such as cheeses and yogurts) can cause serious infections, such as SalmonellaListeria, and E. coli.

What happens if you get sick from raw milk

Getting sick from raw milk can mean many days of diarrhea, stomach cramping, and vomiting. Less commonly, it can mean kidney failure, paralysis, chronic disorders, and even death. The seriousness of the illness is determined by many factors, such as the type of germ, the amount of contamination, and the person’s immune defenses.
Speaking of immune defenses… it’s important to remember that some people are at higher risk of getting sick from drinking raw milk. The risk is greater for certain age groups, such as infants, young children, and older adults. It’s also particularly risky for pregnant women (and their unborn babies) and those with weakened immune systems, such as people with cancer, an organ transplant, or HIV/AIDS.