The kitchen smells amazing. I’m using up all the split tomatoes to make the roasted tomato passata recipe from the Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2 by Pam Corbin. This is my favorite preserves book with dreamy photography, small batches, and real attention to seasonal availability.
Making preserves does take a bit of forethought, and like always, I have to make a substitution or two (no shallots, just a few small sweet onions & only rosemary for herbs). Never mind that doing this on a weeknight after our CSA pick, hasn’t left much time for a ‘real’ supper!
Yesterday I went to the Memorial University Community Garden to check in on the Seed Saving Demonstration Garden. This garden is supported by Seeds of Diversity and the McLean Foundation, highlighting the value of saving our own seeds.
Seed saving can help adapt varieties to your own growing conditions, preserve biodiversity, contribute towards self reliance, and it’s fun!
In the spring Dan Rubin (Perfectly Perennial) and I co-hosted an introductory seed saving workshop. We passed around samples of like kale pods and heirloom peppers, to get everyone up close and personal with seeds. Adding seed saving to the garden brings the season full circle, from seed to seed.
Some of those ideas now bearing fruit – here’s a little detail on the plants currently setting seed in the garden.
Calendula (Erfurter Orange, Calendula officinalis) – The flower is edible, delicious fresh in salads or used medicinally in infused oils. Erfurter orange is a high yielding variety with resinous and vibrant double blossoms, indicating high amounts of flavonoids and carotenoids.
Fava beans (Vicia faba) – Growing on large upright silvery green plants, 3-8 beans are found inside a large fuzzy pod. The source of these plants is seed grown from our fields last year. They are growing vigorously, but seemed to be a bit late in setting pods.
Tomatillos (Toma verde, Physalis philidephica) – A member of the nightshade family, like tomatoes and peppers, tomatillos are a hardy fairly easy to grow plant. The fruit is encased in a papery husk and is used in sauces and salsa, particularly in Mexican cuisine.
It has been a long wait since starting seedlings in March.. but ta-da! Summer is here and the tomatoes are really coming on.
In this box we have Cherokee Purple, Serdtse Dezdemony, Pervaya Lubov, Black Cherry, Black Plum, Sungold, Oaxaca Jewel, Early Russian, and Brazilian Beauty.
We source seeds from different seed companies, save our own, and trade with friends. Many of these tomatoes were started by an amazing gardener who participates in online forums and seed exchanges. Phrases like ‘parthenocarpic fruit set’ and ‘not well known outside of Russia’ have whetted their appetite for flavorful and cold hardy varieties. Of course, it’s hard to limit yourself to just one plant in an experiment, so we luckily got the extras!
A tremendous thank you goes out to all the generous seed savers who grow and share this exciting plant material.
Ready for my close up! Here are a few of the show stoppers in greater detail
Cherokee Purple: This is our main large fruited tomato this season, all of our plants came from seed saved by Nadya / Seed to Spoon in 2010! It’s a deep purple almost black beefsteak tomato with green shoulders – lots of juice and a sweet flavour.
Serdstse Dezdemony: Large fruited yellow heart shaped fruit with a mild taste. The leaves and stalk are slight compared to the whopper of a fruit yielded. Hopefully this one keeps producing more fruit throughout the season. Translates from Russian as “Desdemona’s Heart”.
PI 12025: Catchy name, huh? This is the identifier from a tomato breeders gene bank, which preserves unique and desirable qualities and makes them available to plant breeders to create new varieties. It has a tart acidic tomato flavour, which is a great balance to the other milder pink/yellow varieties we grow. This plant took a long time to set fruit, but now it is ripening quickly and bearing a lot of small to medium sized fruits. Origin is from Turkey.
Lotos: This usual pale yellow/ivory tomato is from Russia, “lotus”. The flavor is fruity and perhaps the closest we have to a peach tree we have around here!
Sungold: This is the only hybrid grown on the farm, but IMHO the most delicious cherry tomato available! It’s bright orange, intensely flavourful, and very productive.
I will follow up this post with some more detail on our seed saving projects (corn, beets, favas, kale, flowers, plus more tomatoes and peppers) and tips for growing tomatoes outdoors – we are trialing three determinate varieties (Alaska, Kimberly, and Al Kuffa) for outdoor production.
I’ll let you know how it all works out!
We’re wishing for the sun to peek out this weekend, ’cause we’ve got a small but mighty market selection well suited for a picnic!
Rhubarb & mint can be made into delicious desserts & cocktails.. plus lots of dill for a potato salad.
Here is a recipe for “rhubarb slush” sent in rainy day solidarity from a CSA member in Calgary – be merry & safe this holiday weekend!
3 cups chopped rhubarb
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
16 oz can of pink lemonade
1 cup of vodka
Combine sugar, rhubarb and water; simmer 5 minutes or until tender.
Blend 1/2 the mixture in the blender until smooth. Repeat with the other half.
Stir in lemonade and vodka; freeze. Scoop some in a glass add lemon lime soda.
Ah, what delicious mysteries lay in the rhubarb patch..