Gardening: Looks can be deceiving
My article about old-fashioned tomato varieties got lots of responses from readers.
Tim Adams from Waterford Township was willing to drive to the Imlay City farmer’s market to get tomatoes for making juice. He tried one of the “Mountain” varieties and said they were not good for making flavorful juice
I suggested Tim visit the Oakland County Farmers Market located in Pontiac (not far from his home), knowing that Marlene Uhlianuk of Coon Creek Farm in Armada sells great-tasting tomatoes including heirlooms such as Brandywine, there every Saturday. Her son George sells these tasty varieties at the Royal Oak Market. Marlene swears it’s the sandy soil on her farm that makes their tomatoes taste so good.
Eastern Market in downtown Detroit and the Ann Arbor farmers market are also great sources for heirlooms and other great tasting tomatoes.
To find other farm markets throughout the state go to mifma.org/findafarmersmarket/.
When shopping for good-tasting tomatoes, looks can be deceiving. Those perfect red orbs that are equal in size, blemish free and very firm to the touch may not be what you’re looking for, so be sure to ask what varieties the vendor is selling. Farmers who sell more than one variety are more likely to grow heirlooms and the older tried-and-true varieties such as Big Boy and Early Girl. Bonnie Best is another old-time tomato that has great flavor.
Some of the ugliest tomatoes I’ve eaten have the very best flavor. And the colors may be red, orange, green, mahogany, yellow or mixed.
My friend Bill from the OPC gave me an assortment of his homegrown tomatoes and the best of the bunch is one he calls “Ugly.” Bill saves his seed from year to year and doesn’t remember the original variety.
His Ugly is larger than my palm, blackish red in color and deeply lobed, giving it the look of a big brain. But when cut into small slices it made delicious open-face BLTs — my favorite. I layered the tomato on thin slices of toasted whole-wheat baguette frosted with a thin layer of mayonnaise and sprinkled with crispy bacon and a bit of sea salt. Yum, and not too bad calorie wise.
Timely tip: Night-time temperatures are dropping into the 40s so it’s time to bring house plants and those tender plants that you wish to overwinter indoors. Included in the mix and those cute little succulents that are all the rage. These little gems are not frost hardy.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit free-lance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. E-mail her at Szerlag @earthlink.net. You can also read her previous columns at http://detnews.com/homestyle/.