Lazy Ox Farm

  (Alton, Missouri)
Tomato variety trial notes, etc.
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Seed Saving Time

     Being a small, family farm, our business works its way into our house on a depressingly regular basis, and never more so than at seed saving time. There are plates of tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds, bowls of melon, squash, and cucumber, seeds, baskets of corn still on the ear, and bags of dried beans, cowpeas, limas, and okra pods drying where ever I can fit them.  It is a busy, but very satisfying time. If all the seeds that are currently drying in our house were planted, they could probably keep an entire city in veggies for a year.
     Most of the seeds we save are just pulled out of the fruits and dried. Tomato seeds, however, need to be fermented for three days in some juice from the tomato. This does not smell good. This does attract fruit flies. We have discoverd that fruit flies are fond of Merlot wine. Not Chardonnay. Not Cabernet. They like Merlot. (We experimented.) Fortunately, so do we. We pop open a bottle, and then have the difficult job of drinking most of it. Once that is accomplished we leave about an inch of wine in the bottom of the bottle and set it on the counter next to the jars of fermenting tomatoes. The little buggers fly into the bottle and drown trying to get a drink. Silly little lushes!
    Another hazard of seed saving is working with hot pepper seeds. I try to be careful, but working with Habaneros, Scotch Bonnets, etc, is very painful. I somehow manage to get the juice on towels, sponges, cutting board, tablecloth, and myself. Everyone in the house ends up suffering sooner or later. One time my wonderful husband decided to shop vac the dust off of the ceiling fan (good hubby!) in the dining room, where I just happened to have many little plates of carefully labeled hot pepper seeds drying (bad hubby!). You can guess what happened. The seeds went everywhere and were a total loss. Plus, we all sneezed for days!


My Favorite Tomato Variety

We sell quite a few varieties of tomato plants and seeds, and I am often asked which one is my favorite. I pause, and  try to think of a nice way to say, "Do you really think that I would grow 60 or 70 varieties of tomatoes if I had a favorite?" Maybe I can narrow it down to 10 favorites. Here I go...             For a main crop red slicer, Abraham Lincoln is my favorite. It puts out a steady suply of medium to large, round, red, cosmetically unchallenged fruits. The best thing is its flavor. It has that good old fashioned rich and sweet flavor that says, "Tom-ahhh-to."          But, I love bicolors, too. We have three varieties of yellow/red/orange heirlooms that are amazing. Pineapple, Candy Stripe, and Virginia Sweets are all large, reasonably productive, gorgeous, and have an extraordinary sweet and fruity flavor. Can't choose a favorite. Flip a coin.          I've had a love affair with oxhearts going on for two years now, and Anna Russian is my favorite. It is pink, abundant, pretty, and very tasty. Whoops, I forgot about Orange Russian. It's a yellow/red bi-color oxheart. The best of both worlds, and simply stunning and very sweet.          Favorite smallish slicer:  Green Zebra. So productive and very tasty. Gorgeous, too.          Favorite red cherry:  Peacevine Cherry. Rampant growth and production of super sweet, little, red morsels.          Favorite yellow cherry:  Honeydrop. Yum! Ten times the flavor of yellow pear.          There's more, but I'm out of room. Just remember that my growing climate is probably different than yours, so try new varieties every year so you can find your 10 favorites!

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