Monthly Archives: August 2013

11. Tomato Review

I’ve pasted the descriptions of each variety we grew (from Baker Creek) with my thoughts on each:

From left: Delicious, Sarah Black, Orange Icicle, German Lunchbox and Yellow Morning Sun

From left: Delicious, Sarah Black, Orange Icicle, German Lunchbox and Yellow Morning Sun

Delicious

90 days. This tomato was developed many years ago by Burpee’s from “Beefsteak” tomato, after 13 years of selection for smoother fruit. This really big tomato produces huge 1-to 3-lb fruit that are fairly smooth for a giant tomato, and as the name implies, these are delicious! In 1986 it set the world record for weight, with a giant 7 lb 12 oz fruit! (source)

Delicious!

Delicious!

We did not get any giant Delicious tomatoes. Our Delicious tomatoes looked like regular red tomatoes that you would find in any grocery store. So many of our friends and neighbors grow tomatoes and around here homegrown “typical” red tomatoes are never in short supply from mid-July-September so I am wondering if I even want to grow red tomatoes next year. The taste of the Delicious does live up to the name, but again nothing amazingly wonderful or different.

Sarah Black

78 days. Attractive, fairly uniform and crack-resistant, purplish-brown fruit have darker streaks in the flesh and are large in size. Earlier than some of the other “black” types. Very rich flavor that is both sweet and spicy with a hint of earthy overtones that make the flavor so good; many consider it to be among the best-tasting tomatoes. Introduced by in the 1990s by Joe Bratka, who received seeds via his great-aunt who lived in Germany. (source)

Sarah Black Tomato

Sarah Black Tomato

These take longer to mature than any of the others and seem to produce less tomatoes. I have not been able to pick up on the subtle flavor differences described in the Baker Creek description and think they basically taste like a regular red tomato.

Orange Icicle

Sweet, rich and flavorful with strong citrus overtones made this Jere’s favorite eating variety last season. We just couldn’t get enough of the sweet, luscious, glowing orange icicle-like fruit that are like an extra long paste tomato. This variety also makes a lovely orange ketchup and a superb salsa. It was a definite winner, and plants were quite productive. In our opinion, this is some of the Ukraine’s finest tomato breeding. Fruit have relatively few seeds. (source)

"Orange Icicle" Tomato turning orange!

“Orange Icicle” Tomato turning orange!

These were most susceptible to blossom-end rot. The taste was bright and good (though citrus overtones?). A “lovely orange ketchup” sounds awesome but we didn’t have enough of them to try something like that. The plants were tall and spindly.

German Lunchbox

70-80 days. This heirloom was brought into the seed store a few years ago by a local gentleman who had been saving this tomato for many years. His family brought this variety to the USA when they immigrated here. The fruit are the size of a small egg, vibrant pink, sugar sweet, and begging to be eaten. Perfectly sized for salads or putting in the lunchbox! A favorite of mine. (source)

German Lunchbox Tomatoes

German Lunchbox Tomatoes

This is a good description and I wouldn’t argue with any of the points made.

Morning Sun Yellow Cherry

60 days. Fairly compact regular-leafed plants yield impressive amounts of 1 1/2-2 inch perfect little grape-type fruits in clusters of up to eight fruits per bunch! Wonderful sweet flavor. (source)

Morning Sun Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

Morning Sun Yellow Cherry Tomatoes

Agree with this description as well. If you are going to grow cherry or grape tomatoes it is fun to go with a color other than red and the yellow looks so cherry and bright.

So will I grow any of these again? Nah…I can’t resist trying new varieties and there are more unique varieties I’d like to try. I think we had a nice sunny rainbow of tomatoes this year but next year I’d like to see variegated yellows, ribbed purples and some big oxheart shapes in the tomato patch. I envisioned my tomato review to be a blindfolded taste-test, where we would try each and describe the taste and try and pick out the subtle differences in flavor (there’s always tomorrow!). Most of our tomatoes have been eaten plain (especially the cherry tomatoes which just beg to be eaten as-is), in salads and of course on slices of bread with mayonnaise. I have eaten a tomato sandwich (salt/pepper/tomato/mayo) more days than not this past month. A tomato sandwich is the greatest way to eat homegrown tomatoes. It is simple and delicious. While eating a tomato sandwich I don’t really think about searching for citrus or smoky tomato undertones so if they were there, I missed them. I do think that every year (and every garden) is different. This year was not an ideal tomato/pepper/eggplant year as it was very cool and mild most of the summer, so some of these varieties could easily wow me in another season, but still I’d prefer to try some weirder varieties. If you have any extra-special tomato variety recommendations I’d love to hear them!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

10. Progress Report

I am writing 100 essays in 100 days: aiming for 300-1000 words for each and 100 views per day. “Funny” and “educational” are the main goals of each essay. PJ O’Rourke, Carl Hiassen and Dave Barry are my favorite writers. No matter the topic, about every other paragraph you are laughing out loud. While not as extremely funny I also love Larry McMurtry. When I first started my blog (February 2013), I intended to write in a style that emulated these authors. But, I ended up mostly only posting pictures and writing little captions underneath them like:

Examining corn in the teepee

Examining corn in the teepee

Doing the 100/100 is a good challenge that “forces” me to actually write things and change it up a bit. One of my favorite blogs, 23thorns, did a 100/100. I really enjoyed it and once it ended, I thought, “I can do (a version) of that too!” One thing 23thorns did was weekly progress report and I now see why he did it: one day of the week, no need to think of a topic. Sometimes thinking of a topic is the hardest part of writing a random essay. Exhibit A: I wrote a post entitled “Pictures I Didn’t Take”, not exactly a compelling subject. So sue me, it was a long day and while I could laugh at jokes, I couldn’t seem to make any.

There's got to be a joke in here somewhere. Maybe it's under this table?

There’s got to be a joke in here somewhere. Maybe it’s under this table?

So how is my progress? My site stats haven’t really increased at all. I’m averaging 30 views a day. And by 30 I mean 20ish. I have 250 followers and by 250 I mean 245. The greatest number of hits Spy Garden has ever gotten (in one day) is 110 and that is the day I posted an obituary for my golden retriever. So basically my dead dog is more popular than my jokes about corn.

And my corn is pretty exciting.

And my corn is pretty exciting.

This woman got 2.5 million views in 36 hours when she posted a letter to her daughter in consideration of Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. I am quite tempted to write about Miley Cyrus in an effort to get more views and followers but this would pose several problems:

1.       I don’t really care what Miley Cyrus does. I mean, I care about her in the way I have concern for humanity, but not enough to write 300-1000 words about her. We all have free will and as soon as we start judging others, it is only a matter of time before the lens shifts and reveals our own transgressions. (People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and all that). Miley may look a lot worse than me/you/whoever at one moment in time but I believe we are all sinners and she can be forgiven for anything, as can you or I.

2.       Popular media in general really has nothing to do with my blog and even though at times I’ve drifted off the topic of “Creative Home & Garden”, writing about Miley Cyrus would just be taking it a bit too far off course mostly because Spy Garden is rated PG. It is, first and foremost, a home and garden blog through the lens of childhood. My kids don’t know who Miley Cyrus is and I am ok keeping it that way.

Tree climbing: one of many activities more fun than writing about Miley

Tree climbing: one of many activities more fun than writing about Miley

So more reflection on my progress 1/10th of the way in…I do not feel I’ve fleshed out every topic I’ve written about in the nine essays so far and this is mostly because I only devote 1-3 hours or so a day to blog-world which is not really enough time to properly edit, expand ideas and do much research. In terms of my writing style, I use the word “mostly” far too often. As in, “I mostly think writing 100 essays in 100 days is a good idea.”

I didn’t really ever want to write about “blogging” mostly (there it is again) because I wanted Spy Garden to be accessible to non-blog writers. Someone who does not have a blog probably cannot relate to the trials and tribulations of composing a post. I have mostly (I know, I know) refrained from being self-aware of how this blog is written and just posted things about the garden without calling attention to the bloggedness of it all. So I won’t do weekly progress reports. Maybe every 10 days or maybe whenever I can’t think of any other topic.

Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd

Serpente di Sicilia Edible Gourd

9. Public Sculpture

We visited a sculpture today in Chesterfield, Missouri.

It really doesn’t get much more generically suburban than Chesterfield.  Chesterfield is well manicured with several parks, many subdivisions and lots of shopping. It is not a particularly interesting or engaging place. It is a clean, affluent suburb and not much more. I was in Chesterfield today because I needed to renew my license at the DMV and take baby to her two-year old check-up: prosaic errands that further illustrate my point about Chesterfield. We had time to kill in between the two, thus the sculpture-visit. I’m not saying it is a bad place to live (for the record, we don’t live there), it just seems like an odd place to install this:

The Awakening by J. Seward Johnson

The Awakening by J. Seward Johnson

Here’s the thing: It is kind of ugly.

A, uh, beautiful knee

A, uh, beautiful knee

I don’t believe art must be pretty to be appreciated. But massive public sculptures? I think they should follow at least a few rules related to aesthetics. Perhaps avoid depictions of grimacing, screaming or crying? Consider that the people who work in the office complex just beyond the sculpture have to stare at this all day:

Help! I'm trapped in Chesterfield!

Help! I’m trapped in Chesterfield!

Exactly want you want to look at when you glance out the window of your cubical! Green grass, trees and a look of panic on a giant, naked man. No matter what the interpretation is, viewing the sculpture does not evoke beauty or joy, which may be more appropriate for public sculptures (especially in Chesterfield).

Raaaagghghhhhhh!

Raaaagghghhhhhh!

It actually reminds me of a zombie. I like zombies. One of our favorite movies is Sean of the Dead (hilarious zombie-movie, a must-see). The Walking Dead is a great zombie television series that we enjoy (despite the show’s complete lack of humor). Despite our affinity for the zombie genre, we will not be installing a zombie sculpture in our yard any time soon.

Though maybe just a hand would be nice.

Though maybe just a hand would be nice.

Some of Johnson’s (more well-known) figurative monumental structures are very clunky (see Unconditional Surrender and Forever Marilyn). Something seems to be lost in the sculptural translation of these iconic images. The moments they depict were fleeting. Thousands of pounds of motionless metal don’t exactly do them justice. The Awakening has more movement and interest than some of his other sculptures. But, I don’t think “clunky” is necessarily a bad quality in a sculpture.

Because I really like his tooth:

The Tooth, Seward Johnson

The Tooth, Seward Johnson

Photo Credit

When the Spy saw my pictures of The Awakening he said, “Wow, that’s really cool.” I tried to my best to get him to elaborate more specifically but all I got was, “I don’t know…It is cool looking. I like it.”

Claes Oldenburg created some of my favorite large-scale sculptures. And how much more perfectly suited to Chesterfield would this be:

Or this:

Or this:

But, I am just a big fan of Oldenburg/van Bruggen, which is really just a matter of taste and personal preference. I can appreciate a good dichotomy so here we have it: The Awakening and Chesterfield, a match made. And even though I alluded to Chesterfield being a sort of boring place, I guess the sculpture makes it less so.

Big toes!

Big toes!

Another angle

Another angle

Examining her own, much smaller, toes!

Examining her own, much smaller, toes!

Part of The Awakening with office parking garage background

Part of The Awakening with office parking garage background

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