Hobart Backyard Farmer

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Tomato Tongue Twister

As promised, I am using this post to let you in on a couple of my heirloom vegetables that I have been growing in recent years that believe to be superior in their characteristics. One is the impossible to pronounce (even if you sit down and actually try)  Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato, the other is a Zucchini  with an almost equally challenging name, Costata Romanesco.

What is an heirloom vegetable? As I can not bothered to take the trouble to paraphrase, I will do what all great minds do, and quote Wikipedia:

“An heirloom plant, heirloom variety, heritage fruit (Australia and New Zealand), or (especially in Ireland and the UK) heirloom vegetable is an old cultivar that is “still maintained by gardeners and farmers particularly in isolated or ethnic communities”.[1] These may have been commonly grown during earlier periods in human history, but are not used in modern large-scale agriculture.”

I think that the quote reasonably defines the term. Other characteristics which may contribute to defining the term might be:

  • Open Polinated – Heirloom seeds are naturally pollinated without human intervention. One can save the seeds, which will typically produce fruit of the same characteristics
  • Predate a period in time – It seems that some consider age of the variety to be of importance,  pre-1950’s or pre-WW2 are a couple of examples that I have seen.

There is a number of arguments that people use to promote the benefits of heirloom vegetables. For me, I grow a mix of hybrid and heirloom crops (hybrid meaning that parents have been selectively cross pollinated in order to produce seed and subsequent fruit of a particular quality). I have found some great heirloom varieties, but also, quite enjoy the super sweet hybrid corns and have had better success with a hybrid pak choi variety over heirloom varieties that I have grown.

Now, there is something else to consider when thinking about heirloom vegetables, that consideration being, food crop diversity. This is not the segway into a hippy rant, as, since acknowledging in my early 20’s that I was never going to do anything to change the ways of the world…  I have become somewhat and perhaps sadly indifferent to sick sad world (Daria reference) around me. I did however read an article in a magazine not too long ago, the topic being, the massive decrease in food crop diversity.

I do not know where the original article is in order to quote, but the below link  has a great graphic derived from a 1983 study  illustrating the point. According to the study, which comprises of a comparison of seed variety availability in 1903 compared to 1983, 93% of the 1903 varieties had become extinct.

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/food-ark/food-variety-graphic

I am not sure why this bothers me, but, it does.

Enough scare mongering and down to the business of profiling these two great heirlooms.

Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato

I find myself in a position that I have not previously been in… having to describe the characteristics of a tomato. There is a lot of pressure as I have built this tomato up so much, that, it may be hard for me to do it justice.

The 1st characteristic, and the one that caught my attention, is slightly furry skin on this tomato. Curiosity value only, but does add to the enigma of the “peach” tomato. Given the right conditions though, this yellow tomato will blush a peachy colour that does make it appear even more delicious. The low acidity and sweetness of the fruit make it almost more a table fruit than a tomato. I would describe the fruit as being  small to medium in size, with a medium yield. Since discovering, I ensure that I have a few of these plants in each year, and everyone who tries it is very pleased with it’s flavour. Not really sure what else to say about a tomato… so below, some pics 🙂

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And now the Zucchini…

Costata Romanesco Zucchini

An attractive, ribbed zucchini (I sound like I really “love” my zucchinis), Costata Romanesco really shines due to its firm, non-watery flesh. This makes it a versatile zucchini for cooking, lending itself particularly well to grilling, stir frying, frying, steaming as well as any other traditional cooking methods. I would describe the flesh as being sweetish, nutty, and, superior to other zucchini varieties I have tried. Additionally, they can be picked quite large and still retain a perfectly edible taste and texture.

If you have never grown zucchinis before, they (zucchinis in general) have a reputation and almost a disdain among gardeners as supplying far too much fruit for one’s liking. Do yourself, friends and family a favour though, and add this variety to your summer crops.

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But wait… there’s more…

For those of you in Australia that I can sucker in to add a comment to this post… I have (or will have if I can’t find them), 5 lots of 10 Wapsipinicon Peach seeds to give away. Be one of the first 5 people to add an extremely friendly,  positive and a maybe even a little sucky uppy (don’t mistake that for patronising though 😉 ) comment to this post score your sweet prize.

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12 Comments

  1. So here’s the big question for hobart ian backyarders – is it time to bring in the green tomatoes to ripen? I’m thinking roots & all upside down. What ‘s your best advice?

  2. Oh by the way – here’s my suck up for the chance for the peach seed – lovely to meet you and see a fellow gardener living with snakes and weeds just like us. Your focus on orchids is very inspiring! (Ok so I’m not great at sucking up)

    • admin

      March 7, 2015 at 7:30 am

      Thanks Maree, for your kind but shallow words 🙂 Your insincerity will be well worth it 🙂 I will shoot you an email soon to get your postal details. In all serious though, thanks for taking the time to have a read of the blog, and I hope you got something from it. If there is anything that I can do to keep you coming back… do let me know (unless it is more free seeds). I look forward to hearing your opinions and finding out about your own gardening adventures.

    • admin

      March 13, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Hey Maree, your seeds are on their way.. Happy growing

  3. Are the peach similar in flavour to the yellow pear tomatoes (which have long been my favourites… I eat them like lollies, they never make it inside from the garden)?
    I managed to miss the tomato season this year while letting the chooks de-weed my vegetable garden section for me! Absolutely devastated! Nothing like a garden fresh tomato (though I was a bit pleased that it wasn’t a great tomato season down south in any case?
    Keep it up though, variety is the spice of life!

    • admin

      March 28, 2015 at 7:46 pm

      If the poor tomato season makes you feel better about your lack of a tomato crop…run with it 🙂 I am a little jealous of your chooks though, we would love to get them, and they are kind of on my roadmap, but we have a bit of a concern about attracting rodents, and even perhaps the odd snake. Do you have any thoughts on this Tegan? Secretly, I have visions of the chickens earning their keep by cleaning up all my weeds, this may be a little unrealistic?

      Regarding the unpronounceable peach tomato. I think it’s flavour is a little unique amongst tomatoes, perhaps being a little less tomatoey, and more fruity. Being that you have responded to this post… do you want me to send you some seeds, so that you can try for yourself?

      • Ooohhh, yes please, that would be fabulous (sorry for the late reply, I’d forgotten to check and was prompted by the subscriber email!)
        The chooks are fantabulous. I got them because the previous owners had had a veg area that had become well overgrown and due to the tight spaces and friable soil was an absolute nightmare to mow and de-weed! Chooks were the obvious solution, plus free eggs and fertiliser. The majority of the weeds in the pen are now well under wraps either through having been eaten or just scratched down and when I weed I either trow them in the compost or to the chooks (they particularly love any veg that has gone to seed, AND they love to clean up snails etc). They are also very funny characters.
        I think I’m too far in suburbia to really see snakes, but I have noticed the odd mouse scamper from the hen house.

        • admin

          May 28, 2015 at 11:03 pm

          Thanks for sharing your chicken keeping experiences, and it is great to hear that they can be put to work. It is on my list of things to do… The list seems to be getting longer. I’ll shoot you an email to find out where to send your seeds to. I will have to go digging again.

  4. Just last night I stumbled upon your blog and I have been perusing it since! Heirloom varieties interest me, and having just moved in to a place (2 weeks ago) where I can actually make room for a garden, I’ll be getting in on the heirloom act myself! Interesting tomatoes you have here, what’s the chances that 5 months on from your post that you may have some seeds etc from dais plant?

    Now, to get back to reading the rest of your blog! (to many orchid posts… I can’t eat orchids…)

    • admin

      September 13, 2015 at 9:49 pm

      Hey Macca,

      I’m glad that you like what you have found, and… great to hear that you have a garden to call your own.. I remember that feeling. If you shoot me your address, ill send you off some seeds (if I can find the packet).

      I know I do post too often about orchids, I can’t help myself 🙂 In the defence of orchids, I am aware of a few that are used for food, with the most notable being the humble vanilla bean.

      Glad to see you have subscribed and hope that you keep reading. I will try to post a bit about things other that orchids to keep you interested.

  5. Gidday. I stumbled upon your website whilst searching for info on growing ginger! But I’ve gotten side tracked by the many topics you have on your website 😊😂

    I had 2 grandfathers who loved growing food & was inspired from an early age. Then life got hectic when my own children came along.

    Now that they’re adults I have much more time to do the things I enjoy & growing food is a favourite. But I am limited by the time my body will allow time spent in the garden. I have fibromyalgia & suffer terribly with chronic pain. But I have picked up some easy tips for bug control & try to make my raised veggie patch work for me, in that it’s easier on my body & weed control is under control.

    I’ve gone totally off topic, sorry. The reason I’m writing is that I would like to know where I might get seeds to these zucchini’s & the other topic I want to touch on is the heirloom vegetables of 1903. It really sadden me that they’re almost extinct.

    How could gardeners or who ever allow that to happen! I know my grandfathers kept seeds, so from early into becoming a gardener myself, I was saving seeds.

    I think there are individuals out there (aside from big companies selling for big profits), who save seeds & do sell or swap. Not sure if I remember seeing them on Facebook or a web search. But they’re out there.

    Btw. You didn’t update your post on growing ginger. You mentioned it tasted horrible. Did it get better as time went by?

    • admin

      January 1, 2019 at 9:56 pm

      Thank you very much for your comment, the effort which you have put in is appreciated. I too have taken much inspiration from my grandfathers, both whom I adored and admired and both, in their own ways, having lived close to the earth and largely consuming that which they could grow, gather, hunt and fish.

      I am sorry to hear of you health problems. It sounds like you have not let it stop you getting in to the garden, which I am sure is a form of therapy.

      I suppose what happened in the years since 1903 is that much of the world began to move away from being largely agricultural societies and due to a number of reasons, the once common kitchen garden gave way to a weekly supermarket shop. I am led to believe that the reduction in food variety had commercial drivers in that varieties began to be selected for storage and ability to transport well, often at the sacrifice of taste and nutrition. Sad to have had such loss, but there are people out there doing a great job to keep heirloom diversity alive. One such business, where you can source the Zucchini seeds which you were inquiring about is – https://www.southernharvest.com.au, and, you are correct, there is no doubt, any number of “seed rings” out there, keeping and sharing seeds.

      Regarding the ginger, that one was a failed experiment which I did not return to. Perhaps you will have better results. Feel free to brag about it when you do. 😉

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