Last week, I was invited to join a group of garden writers at the Stokes Trial Gardens to hear about Loblaw's line of vegetables for the home gardener for 2013. Not only did we get to learn about what's new, we were invited to stomp around the trial gardens and stuff ourselves with vegetables. If that wasn't enough, they asked for our opinions about what we liked best. And, who doesn't like being asked for their opinion? After our tour, tasting, and opinion taking we were served lunch made with many of the delicious fresh field veggies and other great products from the Niagara area.
Hot of the press is a new tomato plant called Mighty 'Mato. The secret behind the Mighty is the tomato is grafted onto a solanum (which one.....we don't know) root stock. The advantage is the plants are stronger, bigger and have higher, earlier, and overall better yields. Older varieties that are flavourful, but mature so much later than newer varieties, will produce 3 weeks earlier when grafted. And, if you have a neighbour who likes to wander around in his Speedo, all you'll need is a couple of these plants. They have been known to grow to as high as 2.5M (8ft). The key to remember, because you're planting a grafted plant, is that you plant them with the graft above the soil level. As far as I can see, the only problem might be devising a container that is mighty enough to contain the 'Mato.
This was an Early Girl Mighty 'Mato that was allowed to stretch out along the sandy soil. When encouraged to grow straight up, she'd be quite imposing.
Here we were in the middle of the fields tasting some of the grape tomato varieties.
Solid Gold is one of those being considered as a replacement for Honey Bunch. H.B. has a tendency to crack if you don't keep up with your harvest. I prefer H.B. to Solid Gold, and am willing to put up with a few cracks for it's marvellous flavour.
Sweetie Pepper is another possible addition to the line of vegetables. Many of us thought it was really delicious.
We finished our meal with peach pie and/or 'Sugar Cube' Cantaloupe. Sadly the pie is only available locally, but 'Sugar Cube' will be part of the vegetable program and it was fabulous. It is considered to be a personal sized mellon. It is about the size of a baby's head - or cannonball (description from Stokes catalogue) and is sweet as the name would suggest. I think it would be wonderful on its own, paired with salty cured meat, cubed with blueberries, or halved with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.
All in all, it looks as if there's going to be a good selection of those garden favourites we've come to enjoy and depend on and a few new exciting introductions that will no doubt find their way onto my garden trolley next year when I'm in my favourite Loblaw Garden Centre.