Blog Posts

The Hillbilly’s Back in Town

tomatoes

After an absence of two weeks from the catalog, we’ve got enough seeds out of the field to put the Hillbilly Beefsteak back on the roster. One of the choicest varieties available for summer heat, drought-worthiness, and just plumb great eatin’, whether on that Fourth of July burger or those zesty summer evening salads. We’ve also got live starts for local pickup, in 4-inch, six packs and a limited selection of half-gallon sizes.

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Certified by Farmer Veteran Coalition

 

 

Spring Seeds Ready, Live Plants On The Way

Chocolate Cherry Tomato

Today it begins! Time to get ready for Spring planting. If you’re wanting to grow tomatoes, eggplants and peppers yourself from seeds, you need to get them planted indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost.

In Tucson, Wilcox, Yuma, Deming and Southern Arizona, New Mexico and California along the Interstate 8/Interstate 10 corridor, that would be in mid-March, giving you just enough time to get those seeds into containers right about now. Texas panhandle and the Gulf States, first of March would be about right to get the seeds into containers, for outdoor planting near tax time.

Blue Gold Berries and Chocolate Cherries Cherry Tomatoes we have plenty of seeds available, with dozens of packets on hand for each…

  • Cherry Tomato: Blue Gold Berries

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  • Cherry Tomato: Chocolate Cherry

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Hillbilly and Sonoran Flair beefsteak tomatoes seeds are somewhat limited due to the recent three-day freeze slowing the ripening process. These are being grown outdoors, folks, and they are not some pansy hot house tomatoes.

  • Tomato: Hillbilly Beefsteak

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  • Tomato: Sonoran Flair

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That means a little flexibility on availability. They’re plenty healthy, just slow to ripen. Over the next weeks, both of these seeds will rapidly increase in number. At present, the Sonoran Flair only has three packets available and the Hillbilly is starting the season with only five packets available.

This is partly because of slowness to fully ripen in time for our schedule (nature has its own schedule), and partly because we have chosen to plant up a number of six-packs to have them ready for planting as soon as the frost drops off. Valentine’s Day is still the target to begin sales of live plants for those who are waiting for that.

The Desert Honeybell, our selection for Orange Bell Peppers, is in a similar place, with only six packets available presently, after getting some six-packs planted for Valentine’s Day sales. Anaheim Chilis have 11 packets ready to go after planting. Listada de Gandia striped eggplants are down to three packets with planting underway. These numbers will also be increasing rapidly as the month goes on. Temporary shortages are a real possibility, but shouldn’t be for more than a week at a time.

  • Desert Honeybell Sweet Pepper

    Bell Pepper: Desert Honeybell

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  • anaheim chilis

    Chili Pepper: Anaheim

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Patience, patience. Those big bi-color beefsteaks, colorful bells and beautiful eggplants are on the way, just have to wait another week or so before they really start coming ripe in numbers. Nobody is more anxious to get these seeds harvested than we are, after months spent nurturing them through heat, rain, ice and frost to get them to this point.

Sow seeds indoors into sterile seedling mix 6-8 weeks before your last spring frost. Plant, water lightly, and cover with plastic or a dome to keep the seeds from drying out. When the first set of true leaves has emerged, up-pot into 3-4 inch pots and place in an area with full light and cooler temperatures

(60-70°F).

  • Listada di Gandia Eggplant

    Eggplant: Listada de Gandia

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A Flair For Flavor

Next up on the January Hit Parade will be our Sonoran Flair beefsteak tomato, a medium-sized sandwich slicer, smaller than some beefsteaks, maybe tennis-ball-sized. This variety is selected from F8 Solar Flair seeds(nowadays spelled “Flare” instead of “Flair”), which were selected and provided by grower and originator Brad Gates at Wild Boar Farms. We will be selecting for flavor, size and for drought and heat resistance. In the near future, we plan to select for cold hardiness as well, at high altitude gardens in Northern Arizona. At the same time, we will be carefully preserving any unusually colorful or otherwise noteworthy mutations for further investigation.

Visually, the primary distinguishing feature of these tomatoes is the presence of metallic gold stripes over a deep red appearance. The overall effect is most appetizing. Those who act on the impulse to bite into one will be rewarded with warm yet sweet flavor, a high degree of juiciness and a savory complexity that goes just as well on a bacon cheeseburger as it does with avocado and bell peppers in your salad.

The pictures show these beauties nearing ripeness in our January gardens. Over the next couple of weeks, these large berries will change color, with the lighter color deepening into red, and the dark colored stripes richening to a deep gold color.

These are very hardy plants, having survived a brutal 2016 summer in Phoenix, and several freezes in December and January this winter. Hardy and beautiful in a single fruit. Drought tolerance is great with this variety, too. A permanent addition to our catalog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonoran Flair, February 2017

Sonoran Flair, February 2017

 

Freshly-harvested Sonoran Flair tomatoes

Freshly-harvested Sonoran Flair tomatoes

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Black Carrot Seeds Now Available

Pusa Asita Carrot

Been harvesting seeds from our Pusa Asita South Indian Black Carrots lately. The big one has greens that stand three feet tall, and it’s putting up seed stalks as thick as fingers. It’s a monster.

Here you can see the root crown in comparison to a one-pound coffee can and a tuna can…

Here’s a comparison shot of the seed stalks forming on this plant, compared to those of average size…

According to University of Southern Queensland research Professor Lindsay Brown, the Carrot Museum and growers in Southwest Asia, Australia and Spain, true black carrots have white centers when young, that eventually darken to purple. This information is corroborated by the Cardinal Oak Hill Farm in Central Texas, who told us their young, edible carrots were white inside with a purple ring in the center, but that the ones they pulled after going to seed were purple all the way through.

The carrots we have harvested were dark purple, nearly black at the root crown, with white centers. The taste is somewhat milder than an average supermarket sweet carrot, holding a similar level of sweetness, but more complex and layered flavor with a hint of celery to it, and no taste of bitterness or spicy bite. We especially like them for dipping into a bowl of ranch dressing. Can’t wait to try them roasted or in stews.

The blunt and twisted shape of this carrot is because it was grown in heavy clay-based soil with only a small amount of compost double-dug into the plot, which was new at the time of this planting. For a longer, more slender carrot, the soil needs to be more fluffy and full of organic material, or heavily amended sand.

Pick up a packet or two of these vigorous, unusual and tasty carrots while they’re still around. You’re not likely to see anything like them in your friends’ gardens anytime soon. Make ’em jealous and… paint the desert!

Mike and Bettie

REFERENCE: Comparison of purple carrot juice and β-carotene in a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet-fed rat model of the metabolic syndrome

The Chocolate Cherry is BACK!!

After selling out of our popular Chocolate Cherry Tomato for 2016 just a week ago, we are proud to announce that the Chocolate Cherry is BACK!! Our schedule cut it pretty close, but we did manage a nearly seamless transition from 2016 stock to 2017 stock with none carrying over.

Fresh from processing and testing, out of the fields and into your gardens for 2017. Thanks to all of you for your support and your enthusiasm for our offbeat varieties!
Michael and Bettie Bailey
-PDSCo

  • Cherry Tomato: Chocolate Cherry

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