The Omnivore's Dilemma Part II (more like related subsection 2a)
Tomatoes are going insane, and it looks like we're going to be into a lot of tomatoes this year. Peas (I said beans originally...but it was actually peas...it was mostly just random purchases at the garden center and I didn't really expect anything to turn out) aren't really thriving that much (they've barely grown), but a few pods have been harvested and holy cripes are they unbelievably delicious fresh. The complexity of the flavors fresh off the plant...absolutely amazing.
There'll be a lot more peas planted next year. Of the tomatoes we have I think 5 different varieties, all of them going insane with growth and fruits except for, humorously, the "Early Girlies" that aren't doing anything.
I'm going to redouble the home garden thing next year. Pondering why we never did it before, it really was the social maligning of home gardens -- as a quote in the paper said today it was "something immigrants and the poor did". It really does seem to be changing.
July 8th, 2007 1:19pm
Are you doing heirloom plants? If not, try them. The old species from before the seed companies decided to hybridize and patent everything.
Once you've tasted a hybrid tomato (and other veggies), there's no going back.
July 8th, 2007 1:39pm
Maybe it's just too hot at the moment:
Tomatoes (heck, most things) should be planted in different spots from year to year. Once much-needed rain has loosened the subsoil round here we'll dig up more useless lawn for the next crop and could even plant some peas in there beforehand. Thanks for kickstarting the thought.
For flavour payoff, try growing some herbs - parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and chervil. And salad greens if you can defend against the snail and chillies are pretty hard to get wrong. Ditto zucchini, but how much zuccha does one need?
July 8th, 2007 6:09pm
I'm against all the GMO stuff and the tomatoes at the store are crap.
But the anti-hybrid thing is sourced in some sort of confusion methinks. Hybrids have been around for thousands of years and it's a very valuable tool.
You can breed a tomato for pest-resistance (so you don't need pesticides), or for flavor. Breeding for both doesn't really work well. So what we do is take the best tasting one, and the most pest resistant one, and cross-pollinate them in a seed crop. Their offspring's seeds are then hybrids and have both characteristics. This is a smart thing to do if you intend to farm organically.
July 8th, 2007 7:06pm
I'm not against hybrids. I was talking about those patented hybrids that you can't breed yourself, and the restriction of commercial seed breeds to a few narrow varieties.
Some of the old heirloom varieties are probably hybrids, or were originally. But I think it's important to educate people about the existence of the old breeds, breeds that aren't meant for shipping and commercial longevity.
Remember, if one of the mass-produced crops fails, we'd better have some other varieties ready to take their place.
July 8th, 2007 7:20pm
The general thing here is that if you save seed from year to year you will rapidly end up with a custom variety that is specifically attuned to the exact particular soil and weather conditions on your plot of land. That's how you make an heirloom, it's seeds passed down from generation to generation. The idea of getting heirloom seeds from some store by mail order still seems strange to me, that's kind of not an accurate label there, those are just rarely used varieties perhaps, but not heirlooms.
July 8th, 2007 8:30pm
They are heirlooms because many of those varieties now available by mail order were preserved sometimes by only one or two farmers who kept growing them. If not for those people, many of these breeds would have died out.
July 8th, 2007 9:26pm
They are not heirlooms because they are not from your family. When you buy a cameo off of ebay, you don't call it a family heirloom. It might have been for the woman who sold it to you if it came from her great grandmother, but it's not an heirloom for you unless you pass it down in your own family.
Heirloom vegetables are ones attuned to your own land. I see in seed catalogs they are calling 'mortgage lifter' tomatoes 'heirlooms'. That's crazy. That's a very successful tomato that was popular 100 years ago, but it's a commercial tomato and always has been. It's not a tomato variety that is specifically attuned to your personal soil and weather conditions, which is what you get from real heirlooms. The term heirloom is being misused for marketing reasons and people don't know the difference. It's no different from the word 'organic' which has also been coopted.
July 8th, 2007 11:40pm
> Heirloom vegetables are ones attuned to your own land.
I know PE you have your own vocabulary and standards of BS, but AMerrickanGirl is perfectly correct in her use of the term heirlooms. I don't know how you have any veggies attuned to the land. I suppose you have genetically sequenced them to prove there are local beneficial adaptations?
son of parnas
July 9th, 2007 12:21am
Hi. Feel free to talk to us when you know something.
July 9th, 2007 1:58am
how far north can one have heirloom tomatoes? north of the mason-dixon line? (assuming that heirlooms must be grown from seed directly and not in a hothouse.)
July 9th, 2007 1:59am
Dear SoP, never heard of natural evolution?
July 9th, 2007 2:06am
> Dear SoP, never heard of natural evolution?
I think I have. Since PE calls BS on basically everything, I am curious how he supports the notion that his crops have naturally evolved inside a few years planting. How could one tell?
son of parnas
July 9th, 2007 2:17am
> "something immigrants and the poor did".
Around 10 years ago, my grandfather from the old country visited my dad he looked around the verdant suburbia and said 'what a waste, all this green grass'. My dad always planted tomatoes and cucumbers every year, but the conventional wisdom in the town, retold by neighbors, was not to plant tomatoes before Memorial Day. My grandfather who had been planting tomatoes (and 20 other kidn of crops) for 50 years, ever since the VE Day, had none of that -- it was a warm, sunny May: plant earlier get more yield, he convinced my dad. Wasting time would be like letting the grass grow on the lawn.
So they went and bought seedlings and planted them around the 15th of May. sure enough, come Memorial Day weekend, a frost sets in the Friday before, kills all the plants.
Moral of the story: I dunno. the old ways are good, except when they're not? your neighbors know more about how to garden than people far far away?
July 9th, 2007 2:46am
Cup Day here (early November).
You can get a start indoors in pots on the windowsill or buy established plants.
July 9th, 2007 3:07am
Hi Parnas, it's called traditional agriculture.
July 9th, 2007 3:22am
strawdog, after you put out your tomatoes keep an eye on the weather. If a frost report comes in, you set your upside down gallon milk jugs on top of your seedlings and that will protect them.
July 9th, 2007 3:28am
let's see ... early November - 6 months = early May.
yup, early May is great weather, but I've seen the flowering dogwoods covered in a freak late snow storm before. Massachusetts is Frost country.
yeah, one can leave the plants indoors. but is it heirloom, or 'adapted to local conditions' if they're either (a) shipped in from warmer clime nurseries or (b) grown in hothouse?
my only other tomato story is that a friend of mine lived on a commune in the hills south of Milano. and August is tomato month. you can't wash you hands clean of the red stuff. tomato everywhere, everything. the plum tomato especially .. the fruits of plum tomatoes all become ripe at the same time, usually within a couple days per plant (unlike the rounder varieties, which stagger in a few fruit at a time over 6 weeks or so). which is why plum varieties are what get canned and jarred, too much stock. that's what the commune did. 2-3 weeks of intense picking and canning.
July 9th, 2007 3:30am
>your neighbors know more about how to garden than people far far away?
The prejudice I was talking about relates to social "norms", not growing knowledge -- it became a social norm to not grow your own vegetables: With supermarkets, surely one must be *poor* to lower themselves to such labor (just as the advent of the electric clothes dryer made hanging your clothes to dry a very low class thing to do, to the point that many communities -- such as mine -- actively ban outdoor clothes drying. Too unsightly).
Like many social prejudices, it has nothing to do with people "knowing", but rather just cowering in fear, or following the status quo.
BTW: the article that I was pseudo-quoting from was http://www.thestar.com/article/232034
July 9th, 2007 9:39am
> Hi Parnas, it's called traditional agriculture.
That must be what I read about in my Permaculture Weekly and Hunter-Gatherer Retrospective subscriptions.
son of parnas
July 9th, 2007 11:49am
> The prejudice I was talking about relates to social "norms", not growing knowledge
yeah, my parents have been growing veggies for 25 years. my mom only got a drier last summer (even then she still prefers the clothes line). the house across the street is like 900 sq. ft for a family of 5. the one next to it is even smaller.
there used to be a corn field up the road, like an 1/8th of a mile. near the school bus stop.
the corn field was sold and the land divvied up into subplots for McMansions. my parents regularly get the wrong mail mis-delivered for a family on the new corn lane ... 'Dr' it says.
anyway, in Portland my housemates and I had a teaming veggie garden over a decade ago. this despite the rather prestigious and elite colleges everyone went to, so either no social pretensions, or far too self-conscious of them. the garden overlooked the Willamette River and I remember watching the logs roll by, and the shipyard on the opposite bank get to work, as I did my morning weeding and watering.
July 9th, 2007 2:03pm
>anyway, in Portland
Isn't everyone in Portland a tree-hugging hippy? It isn't surprising that there wasn't the stereotype about vegetable gardens there.
July 9th, 2007 3:38pm
>Are you doing heirloom plants? If not, try them.
It was mostly just random picks from the garden center -- a couple of "Early Girls", some Julietes, a "Wonder Boy" (apparently many of these are Canada-specifics, as searches are bringing me to Canadian sites), and one that ripens yellow. If the "crop" turns out this year we'll be more discerning next year.
July 9th, 2007 3:41pm
either hippie, or white trash poor.
lots of strippers too. land of the strippers.
and toking Republicans.
July 9th, 2007 4:57pm