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.
Cut ‘Em Open for a Visual Feast
These big, beefy bi-color tomatoes are famous for warm flavor, for excellent taste, and as the perfect burger slicer. Undeniably delicious, these enormous, 1-2 pound fruit have gorgeous golden-orange, red streaked flesh and skin. Indeterminate plants produce sweet, juicy beefsteak type tomatoes that are low in acid and exceptionally tasty in sandwiches and salads.
These are grown for hamburger and sandwich slices, dicing for salad, tacos and the like, and for an occasional decadent, juicy snack, with flavorful juices running off our chins as we smack our lips… uh, sorry, lost it for a moment just thinking about these awesome beauties.
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.
Use ground cover such as melon or squash to cool the ground and preserve moisture through the hottest part of the summer. Then you can cut the ground vines away as fall approaches, and the mature plants will produce heavily until frost.
The selection criteria for Sonoran Flair are:
Heat resistance. We are looking to sell a tomato seed that will set fruit well above 100 degrees. These plants have survived 120-degree summers in Southern Arizona’s Sonoran Desert, and set fruit in spite of spending weeks at or above 110-115 degrees.
Currently being adapted for short seasons and cooler summers in our Painted Desert location at 6700 feet on top of a mesa in Pine and Juniper forest
Drought tolerance. A scarcity of water goes with the territory when the temperatures are well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the late afternoon.
Size. This doesn’t mean we select for the biggest monsters we can produce. We seek to select a variety that serves as the RIGHT SIZE rather than the largest size. We’re looking for the perfect burger and sandwich slicers here.
As always, even if all the above criteria are met, taste is the deal-breaker. These tomatoes must taste GREAT or they just don’t make the team, simple as that.
Unusual colors, cherry sizes or noteworthy mutations will of course be preserved for exploration as fixed phenotypes, going into the future.
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.
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
The Blue Gold Berries cherry tomatoes have been coming ripe over the last couple of weeks, and we are now in full seed-harvesting mode on these babies, with several pints per plant developing. Once dried, cured and tested, these seeds will be listed both on our Facebook Shop page at https://www.facebook.com/PaintedDesertSeedCo and here on our Painted Desert Seed Company website store, beginning in late January or early February.
We’ll be turning around and planting about 150 starts from these plants, just in time for Southern Arizona, in the first week of February. We’ll have these starts available for spring, beginning around Valentine’s Day and continuing until sold, at $5.00 apiece. Phoenix area only. These tomatoes are very juicy, savory without being sweet, and with a powerful, tangy zing to them. They would be absolutely perfect for salsa, relish and on tacos or pizza.
They make for great snacking all by themselves, and our harvest has been in danger a couple of times because these berries always seem to disappear within a few feet of the bush and never make it into the house! 😀
They have already survived at least three freezes before harvesting, so these berries are also a lot hardier than the average tomato, especially considering they also survived a 120-degree spell for nearly a week in June. You won’t find a tougher, more beautiful or more intensely flavorful cherry tomato anywhere.