Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Farming in the city

The Black Cherry tomato plant has been cut back and pulled out. Now I have an empty milk crate waiting for kale. When will I plant? I don't know. I need a few more weeks in a day.

They were wonderful tomatoes, more dark green than black and pretty resilient.

The Yellow Pears are still going, but very blighted, and I'll take them out soon. They made more than we could eat. I left some at our neighbour's door in a bowl, and a few days later I found a pound of very good coffee at our door, with a nice note and the clean bowl.

The Mexican Heirloom's leaves are still fresh and healthy, with no blight or disease at all. The plants I have are all volunteers, offspring of the first tomato I grew several years ago on the terrace itself. The seedlings still pop up in the gravel.

There are a few more San Marzano plum tomatoes to come - their flesh has been quite dry. They are pretty, but I don't think I'll plant them again. And still about a dozen Green Zebras on those plants.Their leaves have been stripped by the tobacco hornworm caterpillars. They are delicious. Quite tart.

The Physalis - ground cherries (below) - are driving me a little demented. They won't stop. Every day more of their pale husks litter the roof. They taste very different from my mom's cape gooseberriesPhysalis pervuviana - in Cape Town, which is the same as the fruit grown commercially in South Africa. The cape gooseberries are deep yellow with sweet with a tart finish. Wonderful for baking.

My ground cherries are "Aunt Molly's", and native to the eastern and central US, apparently:  Physalis pruinosa. Other sources say they are Physalis pubescens var. integrifolia. They are small and a muddy yellow, very sweet (too sweet for me) with a lightly strange aftertaste of Solanaceae. The bushes are different, too. Mine are distinctly horizontal and squat, with the fruit crowding the rigid branches. The ones grown in South Africa have longer, more upright branches, and the fruit dangles freely from the stem.

I enjoyed growing these - they are very easy and rewarding, but I'd like to find the other species, whose taste I prefer.

Not pictured are the Striped Germans and Brandywines - still a few more to come, or else I'll give up and cook them green. The eggplants must be removed, and there are few peppers still peppering. Seeds are waiting.

Photo: Hudson Clove

And in other news, Frank has gone commercial! If you'd like to order genuine, local garlic online, in a bouquet of varieties, visit his new site: Hudson Clove. Congratulations, Farmer Frank. He had a dream.


  1. Our tomato plants are finished for the most part, we have a few heirlooms hanging in there, and tons of black cherry tomatoes, but most of the others are split.
    We are going to dismantle the cages and plant fall beets and spinach. I am over the tomatoes!

  2. I just read your post on facebook about the Country Living Blogger Award. I'm probably not the only one but I actually nominated you. I'm not sure how all that works but I subscribe to that magazine and when I saw the opportunity to make nominations I went to their website and nominated you. Now I'll go online to vote!

  3. Stacey, I can imagine you're tired of them. We have so much less space, so consequently fewer tomatoes!

    Barbara - thank you! I'm so glad I know how it started...thank you very much...

  4. What a beautiful still life.

    and what a haul of 'maters you got this year.

    I'm off to check our the Country Living award.

    I'm a voter.

    xo jane

  5. Our Yellow Pears are still prolific. Am oven-drying them and then freezing. Delicious! If you have a bit of freezer space, you might consider that. Love the zebra striped tom, tho! it's cute.

  6. What's this country living stuff? Have I missed something? Thanks for the announcement. The dream grows bigger an better this autumn :-)

  7. Lovely post Marie! I plan to try zebras and brandywines myself next year... Congratulations to Frank :)

  8. Ah, the garden haul post - always one of my faves! Our black cherries are spent - I just picked the last three. We've still got a couple small green zebras still hanging in and a couple of a variety I've never grown before called Amora Orange - they're huge and orange with a very classic tomato flavor. I'm hoping the last few ripen soon, I am NOT over tomatoes yet :)

  9. Here's a link to a source for different ground cherry seeds, including the Giant Cape Gooseberry.

  10. Thank you very much for that link, anonymous. They even call them Cape gooseberries!


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