Friday Flora & Food For Thought

Artichoke Imperial Star 1

‘Imperial Star’ Artichoke

According to the Sweetwater Nursery tag, these “compact plants grow 3-4′ tall and produce 3-4 heads the first year! Good eating quality; sweet, tender and no thorns. Plant 4′ apart for best quality. 85 days. Full sun. Water 2-3 times per week until established.”

Artichoke Large Romanesco 1Romanesco Artichoke

According to the Sweetwater Nursery tag, we should expect “large globular heads with firm green bracts with violet overtones and no prickles! Tender, sweet flavor. Great producers. Full sun best.” According to Annie’s Annuals, “Roman Artichokes, or Carciofo Romanesco, have “large, nutty flavored hearts free from fuzz!”

Artichoke Green Globe 1Green Globe Artichoke – I’m surprised this plant is even producing. I transplanted it in late January and it’s less than half the size of our other artichoke plants.

According to the Territorial Seed Company, this variety is “the original improved artichoke. Green Globe flowers in early summer. The flower buds are deep green with a light purple tinge. A good harvest of 3-4 heads can be expected throughout the summer. They are 3-5 inches in diameter and have wonderfully thick, flavorful hearts. Proven to be the most hardy and remain productive for at least 5 years. At an elevation of 900 feet, our research farm routinely overwinters Green Globe artichokes. Hardy in zone 7 and above.”

Lime Blossoms 1Lime blossoms – my favorite scent (along with orange and lemon blossom!)

We purchased this espalier lime four or five years ago and have yet to harvest a single lime. It is currently loaded with blossoms and tiny limes, so things may be looking up.

sungold tomato blossoms‘Sungold’ F1 tomato blossoms

When I purchased this seeding, along with a Paul Robeson and a Caspian Pink, from Love Apple Farms, it was in a tiny, two inch pot. I transplanted it into a one gallon pot right away and have been watering daily, as directed. Initially, I brought all three plants indoors each evening, but as of April 1st, I’ve been leaving them outside at night, under the overhang. Each plant is now over a foot tall.

According to the grower, Sungolds are “extremely popular” cherry tomato hybrids that produce round, orange skinned fruit in approximately 65 days. They call it the “sweetest cherry around.” The Caspian Pink is described as a “test test winner” and “customer favorite” with “sweet flavor”, producing large, round, pink fruit in 85 days. Finally, the Paul Robeson is described as a “prize-winning tomato” and “chef’s favorite” with “complex flavors.” It produces chocolate colored, medium sized, round fruit in approximately 80 days. I also wanted a Julia Child (described as having “juicy flesh” with “traditional tomatoey flavor”) and a Brandywine (described as “one of the world’s best tasting fruit”), but none were available. I’ll have to keep looking.

Is it me, or are fruits and vegetables being described as “sweet” with increasing frequency now-a-days? I’ve noticed that some people are so addicted to sugar that unless something is described as “sweet”, they won’t even try it. Sad, but true. I suppose one might argue that it’s better to eat “sweet” tasting vegetables rather than no vegetables at all, but I fear our access to “complex” or “traditional” tasting produce is becoming more and more limited. It seems the only way I can access the flavorful vegetables I want is to grow them myself or seek out and support those farmers who specialize in growing hard-to-find varieties, so that’s exactly what I do. Won’t you join me? If you have a yard, consider replacing your lawn with a vegetable garden, or perhaps, try growing a single tomato plant? If you don’t have room for a garden, why not join a CSA or shop at your local farmers’ market? At the very least, think about it. For my notes on last summer’s harvest – check out this post.

As for me, I can’t wait wait to do some artichoke and tomato taste comparisons! Until then, you’ll find me hanging around my lime tree, drinking in that intoxicating fragrance.

Have a wonderful weekend!

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