Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oh, it's getting good

Saturday July 25th, 2009:
Temperature: High: 82; Low: 63.
Rainfall: trace.
Average windspeed: 8.6 mph, from the NW.
Adjective: perfect.

Summertime is here, by golly. And for proof I offer (ladies and gentlemen, drumroll please) this season's first tomato!

The "Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge", an heirloom of great charm and dignity:

Ohhhhh, it was a doozer too. Just ripe, it had the texture of a peach but with impeccable tomato flavor. We haven't grown this varietal before and jeez, if we get even a few more pounds of these, we're gonna count this season a success on the merits of that tomato alone.

Tomatoes weren't the only new additions to the harvest family. We pulled up a generous bunch of Siskyou Sweet onions and made a exploratory dig into one of our potato containers.

Those spuds you're looking at are a French heirloom variety called la ratte and here's a little histoire pour vous:

Like so many fashions, la ratte is a revival. It was grown in small quantities mostly around Lyon, and was known by such names as the quenelle de Lyon and the early pickle or cornichon hâtive. It appears under its present name for the first time in the Vilmorin-Andrieu seed catalogue for 1880.

After World War I,
la ratte disappeared and it does not even figure in La Pomme de Terre dans Votre Assiette, an authoritative guide by Nestor de la Bouteillère...

The revival of
la ratte began slowly in 1962 when a farmer near Le Touquet, in the north of France, found that the potato flourished in his sandy soil. He began research to improve breeding and emerged with a specimen fine enough to attract the backing of alarge cereal producer, the Société Rignot, in 1977...

"When you have dinner guests you bring out an exceptional wine," [
la ratte farmer] Dominique Dequidt says. "your potatoes, too, should be out of the ordinary."

(Blume, Mary. A French Affair. Free Press, 1999)

Considering such high praise, we took a handful home to test out. Ooh la la. Not only out of the ordinary, they might have been the best potatoes to ever grace a garden. But just you wait. If we can beat these aphids, we'll have plenty more where that came from.

Other fruits of the harvest included greens, beans (green and yellow), bunching onions, peas, raspberries, gooseberries, beets, carrots, basil, and one enormous daikon. It was a good haul. After such a strange spring it was nice to see that summer is reaching its height and with it our veggies.

Harvest at Vital Bridges/Groceryland:

Come by and see how we're doing!