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October 21st, 2011

This Year’s Best Tomato

barbara_tnYes, it’s getting cold at night here in Boulder, Colorado. We lost all the tender things two weeks ago but the days are still nice and warm. Last week there was snow in the low mountains just a few miles from my garden.

My house is stacked full of cartons of unripe tomatoes, and ripe ones, too. My absolute favorite tomato this year is ‘Sweet Seedless’ from Burpee. It had a rocky start when just a few seeds germinated for a total of only three seedlings to pot up. Those three promptly got lost in the shade of the big, lusty ‘Brandy Boy’ tomatoes that filled their one-gallon pots in record time. Truly, I didn’t know the ‘Sweet Seedless’ were underneath there until I moved the BB’s out of the greenhouse! Spindly little things, I didn’t give them even one star at that point.

‘Brandy Boy’ grew 5 or 6 feet tall in no time and produced tons of immense tomatoes. Then, when most of the fruit was half ripe, those gorgeous plants got the blight. So did many of my other tomato varieties, although I pruned up the bottom leaves and was careful to not get the foliage wet. At the same time, those little ‘Sweet Seedless’ were growing tall, taller, and eventually tallest in the  garden—7 feet high, sturdy as could be, and hugely wide, taking up more garden space than any other variety. They were covered in lovely medium-sized green globes that ripened slowly but tasted so sweet. No unhealthy leaves, no cracked or marred tomatoes—eerily perfect.

It was a bit difficult to crawl deep into the viny mass to harvest tomatoes, but I’m not complaining. Now myriads of green ones are slowly ripening all along my hall, nestled in flat fruit boxes, and they have the same sweet flavor too. I will grow these every year.  —Barbara Miller, Boulder, Colorado

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July 5th, 2011

What’s Lime Basil Good For?

Inansterman just came in from checking my garden. Here’s my report, five weeks post-transplant. Overall, things are thriving! I’m amazed at how quickly everything is growing and starting to produce. I picked a ‘Salt and Pepper’ cuke that was delicious—crisp and sweet. There was one that was overripe so I probably could have picked it four or five days ago had I noticed it hiding among the foliage. That would be a month from transplant to harvest!

Tomatoes are growing like gangbusters and all are flowering. Some have tiny fruits. The peppers are just starting to open their buds; eggplants are just forming buds. The eggplant plants are humongous!

I have a couple of lime basil plants. I tasted one today, and I have to say that I don’t “get it.”  Why would anyone grow lime basil when they can grow the amazingly pungent and mouth-watering Italian-type basils? I’m not sure what I’m missing, but the lime basil is just boring to me. Can anyone enlighten me?  —Nan Sterman, Encinitas, California

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