Gardening is for old people. At least, that’s what I used to think; but now I’m doing it.
I started last year. Tomatoes were the thing to grow, so I picked up a couple plants at a nearby nursery. I tried the Carmello and Homestead 40 varieties. Those were what the store had in stock, and the tomatoes pictured on the labels looked good. The Carmello plant did well. It produced a few dozen tomatoes, and they were fairly sweet. It was enough to make me want to try again this year.
Now I’ve gone all out. Back in March, I planted some Black Krim, Yellow Pear, Pink Brandywine, Orange Oxheart, Mortgage Lifter, Sweet Millions, Celebrity, and Early Girl. I’ve gotten tomatoes from all the plants except the Black Krim, and I’m ready to share the results.
- The Mortgage Lifter has been by far the most productive of them all, and its tomatoes have been reliably delicious. They’re medium-sized and very sweet. My wife and I both rate it as the best of our plants this year.
- Next is the Orange Oxheart. It has been fairly productive, and the tomatoes are HUGE. (See the picture at the top of this post.) They are very sweet, and it’s hard to tell whether we prefer them or the Mortgage Lifter.
- Coming in at third is the Sweet Millions plant. It’s a cherry tomato variety, which I wasn’t excited about initially, just because I think cherry tomatoes aren’t very sexy. However, it ended up being extremely productive, and the tomatoes are indeed sweet. So it really lives up to its name.
- Fourth is Celebrity. It has been extremely productive, but the tomatoes are merely pretty good — not nearly as sweet as the three varieties described above, but better than the run-of-the-mill grocery store tomato.
- The Pink Brandywine plant is hard to place. It has only produced three tomatoes (and it doesn’t look like it will produce many more). They have all been large. The first one was just about the nastiest tomato I’d ever eaten; I think something had gone wrong with it, though. The second one split open on the vine, and I picked it early, cut out the bad part, and ate the rest. It was fantastic. The third one made it to full ripeness intact, and it was also delicious — even more delicious than the Mortgage Lifter tomatoes. If the Brandywine vine had produced more tomatoes and if they had been uniform quality, this one would definitely be higher on my list.
- The Yellow Pear variety seems to me mostly a novelty. They’re small, pear-shaped, and yellow — hence the name. The plants haven’t been especially productive, and the tomatoes don’t have an outstanding taste, so at the moment they’re not on my list of tomatoes to grow again next year. To be fair, I should disclose that I planted them from seeds a little late in the year; they might have done better if they’d been planted earlier.
- Last (and least) is the Early Girl variety. I bought them because they’re supposed to produce tomatoes earlier than other varieties. They did indeed do so, but the tomatoes tasted just like ordinary grocery store tomatoes, which is to say they were not very good at all.
I’ve left off Black Krim because I haven’t gotten to try any yet. I do have one plant that has about five tomatoes on it, and they should be ripe in a week or two. I expect them to be pretty good, because I’ve had a Black Krim tomato before, and I liked it.
Below is another picture of an Orange Oxheart (right) next to an Early Girl.
I also planted okra this year, since it’s supposed to grow well in Houston. I was surprised to see that the flowers are quite pretty, though they don’t last very long. Below is a picture of one.
Note to anyone who plants okra: The “fruit” will grow in size without limit, but you need to pick it early (when it’s only two or three inches long). Otherwise, it will be tough and fibrous. I fried some with cumin, and it tasted really good!