03 August 2007

Status report

I guess I've dropped the ball on the point of this blog, which was to act as my garden journal. The demand for my pontifications on topics such as natural selection was just overwhelming. It's to the point where I've even considered using the oft-maligned (in my head) twitter to chronicle more prosaic events, like the year's first tomatoes, which I think happened two weeks ago.

Anyway, I've always resisted the siren call of tomatoes, because thousands of farmers in a 100 mile radius have vastly superior tomato conditions than I, but this year I tried the 'Maglia rossa', bred by Baia Nicchia specifically for our heat-starved microclimates. They are beautiful, prolific, and early, and the flavor so far is good, if not earth-shattering. Might be a keeper.

In other diaristic news, a rapidly-looming vacation forced some last-minute irrigation improvization with 150 feet of soaker hose, which, barring catastrophe will work better than last year's foreign housesitter.

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Blogger chuck b. said...

The Baia Nicchia dude came to my Pam Peirce class to talk about his business. I meant to do a blog post about it, but I don't think I ever did. I still have his card in my wallet.

What interested me most was his forthrightness about "seasonal and local" equaling luxury and privilege. I'm not especially in to seasonal-and-local, so I hadn't thought about it much. But I'm pretty sure the usual spin has more to do with clean, virtuous living. Well, not to the businessman.

He talked about his tomato breeding program, and how he throws out any plant that makes a straight up round, red tomato without even tasting it. The tomatoes must have striping or other some other color feature or interesting size/shape quality because that's what chefs want. Presentation is everything, and selling fancy tomatoes to upscale restaurants is one of BN's key business objectives.

He used to be a biologist in the local biotech industry, but I didn't catch the name.

8/03/2007 9:08 PM  
Blogger mmw said...

Hmmm, I'm getting a strange sense of deja vu here....

Spammers, read this.

Upscale restarants, read this.

8/06/2007 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Fred Hempel said...

Interesting link (Upscale restaurants, read this). I pretty much agree. There are many horrid heirlooms out there. Heirloom tomatoes are simply 50 years old. Some are good. Some are revolting. On the other hand, SunGold (a hybrid) is a fantastic "commercial" variety.

I'm the "Baia Nicchia dude" and while Chuck is correct that I throw out red tomatoes, untasted, in my breeding program -- I do not select simply for striping/unusual color etc. In the end taste is everything, and the chefs I work with want excellent taste combined with interesting colors, shapes, sizes and textures.

8/07/2007 11:07 AM  
Blogger mmw said...

Thanks for the comment, Fred. As I said, the 'Maglia rossa' flavor is good -- certainly better than any tomatoes I've ever grown here, except for the sungolds that I also bought from you.

My main point was that I feel lucky not to be able to grow tomatoes that can compete with the farmers markets, and particularly with Dirty Girl's dry-farmed Early Girls (also a hybrid, of course). As a semi-urban gardener with a tiny yard, its nice not to have to devote all that space (not to mention inputs) to vegetables, like my parents did when I was a kid (and still do), because there was no other way to get a good tomato. But at the same time I'm grateful to you for working on plants we can grow here with good results.

8/07/2007 11:29 AM  

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