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.
Who wouldn’t love the chance to drive something like this thing for some kind of routine chore on the property? It would be great to use this ancient J.I. Case tractor for staging hay or water to another working area on a regular basis…
The Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia Rotundifolia) is a different plant than the better-known Common Sunflower and its developed varieties (Helianthus Annuus). This flower doesn’t produce the same kind of edible seeds, but it does live and thrive just about anywhere it’s temperate. Poor soil, little water and hot sun just make these tough, beautiful flowers even happier, it seems at times.
We have these plants in the full Southern Arizona sunlight for 11-12 hours a day, and all they have done is flourish in temperatures as high as 120 degrees in June and July of 2016. Nary a wilt among them all.
The big bonus is that Tithonia are irresistable to important pollinators like bumblebees, solitary native bees, honey bees, butterflies (Mexican Sunflower is a favorite of the Monarch butterfly) and hummingbirds. And they do well in more temperate climates like the Midwest and Atlantic seaboard, as well. They will need absolutely full sun and little water in those places, however.
In our opinion, you can’t find more trouble-free and effusive color anywhere else. And at the end of the season it will re-seed itself and can be tilled under to improve the soil’s carbon/nitrogen content and its texture. Leaves and flowers are edible as greens, also.
One of the most famous farming methods utilized by the indigenous tribal peoples of North America is called The Sisters. Three Sisters Planting refers to corn, providing support for pole beans, which in turn provide nitrogen fixing into the soil for the corn, and ground covering vines such as squash or melons to preserve moisture and provide cooling for the roots of the beans and corn. In the Southwest deserts, another, Fourth Sister joins the Three Sisters: Sunflowers also provide shade and cover from wind, as well as further support for beans and vines. Learn more about Gardening with The Three Sisters here: