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.
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!
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
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…
To maintain isolation and control over the purity of a particular variety, it may become necessary to cage a plant and pollinate it by hand, to avoid cross-pollination from neighbors, farm crops or volunteer plants in the area. Many times, especially with very popular plants like peppers and melons, hand pollination is the only way to eliminate unwanted hybridization. What are some of your tricks when it comes to isolating special breeds or hand pollinating?
Here are a few tips when it comes to isolating and pollinating squash blossoms, courtesy of Native Seed/Search, a regional seed bank in Tucson, Arizona, where Painted Desert Seed Co. is a member.
Having a hard time finding prepping events like trade shows, conventions, fairs and the like? Head over to the Round Valley Preparedness Fair come September 24… There’s a little something for everybody.
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.