Archive | August 2014

Solar Flare Wild Boar Tomatoes

Solar Flare Wild Boar

What keeps gardening fresh and fun for me is to grow at least one or two different varieties of vegetables each year. My pet project this year is the Solar Flare tomato that was developed by Wild Boar Farms in California. I found it while perusing my Totally Tomatoes seed catalog in the dead of last winter and was intrigued by its color and the promise of tastiness as well as hardiness. In the past, I’ve avoided heirlooms because I fight disease issues each year and feel that a hybrid would stand up to them better. The Solar Flare tomato was said to have good scab resistance, so I thought it would be fun to try.

I started the Solar Flares from seed like I did with my standby Celebrity and Abe Lincoln Hybrid varieties. My seed starting system is nothing fancy, it’s the set-the-tray-in-the-bedroom window-method. The plants popped right up, no problem and acclimated to the garden very well. However, vicious windstorms struck us many times from May through July and all of our tomato vines were beaten nearly to death. Our temperatures and moisture have also fluctuated a great deal throughout this summer. We missed nice, soaking rains that our neighbors 10 miles south of us received. Most of August has been unusually cool and very dry—until this past week. All in all it’s been strange summer weather-wise and not ideal for growing tomatoes.

 Sliced Solar Flare

Despite the adversity, the Solar Flares have performed magnificently. They have a beautiful, red with yellow striped skin and are full of juicy flavor. In fact, their taste reminds me of the wonderful tomatoes of my childhood. The tomatoes are not perfectly uniform in size or shape, but I blame much of that on the growing conditions they have weathered.

 Solar Flare Tomato

I love these tomatoes and next year plan to try additional varieties in the Wild Boar Series. I’d love to hear how your tomatoes are faring this year and if you have some favorites to recommend.

 

 

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The Sweet Taste of Victory

Sweet Corn 2014

The raccoons and I have waged war over sweet corn for over twenty years. Since our main garden is an eighth of a mile from the house, it’s difficult to protect it from marauders. An electric fence would help tremendously, but the garden is large (90’ x 54’) and I really didn’t want to spend the money. I don’t want lot of corn, just enough to put a few pints in the freezer and have a few meals of fresh corn-on-the-cob.

I usually don’t have any trouble with raccoons until the day before I’m about to pick the sweet corn. I’m convinced they have ESP and know when I’m planning to harvest. Every year, I think I can outwit them and every year I go up to the garden with bucket in hand only to find the ears ravaged. As I watched the corn thrive this summer, I decided that this would be my last year growing of sweet corn. The game I’d played with the raccoons had become too wearisome, and I was throwing in the towel. This year was particularly hopeless, because we were going to be away from the farm right when the corn would be at its peak.

ear damage/raccoonscorn stalk damage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in Indiana, I tried my best not to think about how the raccoons were pillaging the garden. When we returned home, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Only half a dozen stalks were torn up and the rest were untouched. For once, I picked enough corn to freeze and to enjoy fresh. Victory!

So how did I beat the raccoons at their game this year? Mostly luck. However, I also used my husband’s suggestion to plant twice as much corn in hopes that I could pick a few before the raccoons wrecked the entire patch. It was a good strategy not only to keep the raccoons at bay, but it also helped the quality of the corn. More corn meant better pollination.

 

Peaches & Cream Variety

Peaches & Cream Variety

Will this truly be my last year of growing sweet corn? No way. That was too much fun. I’m doing this again next year!