Steaks in the Summer Garden

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Heirloom Tomato Seedlings
We're planning to grow steaks in the Bird Back 40 summer garden this year. How about you? Can you spot the tiny steak starter plants in the photo to your right? They are right in front of your nose. They don't look all that special -- but come this summer -- hopefully the wife that is Venus will be digging into her favorite cut of prime rib.

How does one grow steaks in a garden you ask? Plant a moo-moo cow in the raised garden beds perchance? Set aside a portion of the Bird Back 40 for some moo-moo cows? They'd get along great with Lenny the Giant Maine Coon cat, wouldn't they? Probably not -- so perish the thought.

Steak House Hybrid Tomato Seed
No -- the steaks we're growing this year -- a first for us by the way -- are of the vegetable or fruit variety. It's called the Steak House Hybrid. It's the latest introduction from Burpee Seed, and I must warn you, it's ridiculously expensive. How expensive? Stupid expensive. As someone has to be as stupid as yours truly to lay down $7 for a packet of magic beans.

Yes -- I will admit -- I paid $7 for Burpee's latest creation. They promised a seed packet with 25 seeds. Yet -- someone has a serious math problem in that seed operation because when the package finally did arrive, it contained a total of six or seven seeds. That's right, a buck a seed. This better be worth it.

Tomato Seed Selections from Tomato Growers Supply
Burpee claims that it is. "Meet the biggest tomato ever bred," the advertising claims. "And it’s not just bigger but better. Tipping the scales at up to three lbs. plus, broad-shouldered tomato titan is bigger than Big Daddy, and loaded with true heirloom tomato flavor and head-spinning fragrance. Indeterminate plants produce gorgeous, humongous fruits."

With advertising like that, who can resist? The Steak House Hybrid is one of 40-50 varieties that we're growing from seed this year. Planted two weeks ago, most of everything has sprung to life. This includes numerous peppers, which should have been planted a month earlier, but, uh, I'm late. OK, so sue me.

Solar Flare Tomato Seed: Wild Boar Farms
Some of these varieties are new. Some are old favorites. Every tomato garden must now include a Pink Berkeley Tie Dye, the brainchild of Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms. If that's not a gardening law, it should be.

Other old-time gardening varieties include the always amazing, but sometimes tempermental, Azochka (tastes like bacon!). Look closely and you will find a Druzba, Green Zebra, Caspian Pink and Brandywine.

Ah -- but the Steak House Hybrid isn't the only "meat" feature in this year's summer garden. And no summer garden is complete without other tasty summer vegetables. Nope -- you've got to have a patch of basil here and there. Peppers are a must. And who can forget about tasty eggplant?

Seed Starting Station
So -- it's not just steaks -- but meatballs as well. This is yet another Burpee selection -- an eggplant they like to call "Meatball." So -- what's so special about "Meatball?" I have absolutely no clue. This is the first time I've grown it.

But if you were to believe the fine folks at Burpee: "Meet the mightiest, meatiest eggplant ever. Imagine fresh, home-grown, vine-ripened MEAT! That's Meatball."

Do you believe them? Meh -- me too. We'll see what happens.

Our "seed rack" contains about 140 starter plants this year. That represents the most we've ever started from seed. Can we fit 140 starter plants into the Bird Back 40? Only if I knock down the neighbor's fence and take over his backyard -- something he probably wouldn't like.

But, starting too many plants is a tradition here. Besides, they always do find a home. If not in our garden, somewhere else. I mean, look, who can pass on a tomato named after a STEAK and even the hardiest eggplant hater would pause at something called a MEATBALL.

It's 2016 in the Bird Back 40. The carnivores are taking over.

Big Pink
Black Krim
Campbell’s 1327
Cascade Lava
Caspian Pink
Green Tie Dye
Green Zebra
Italian Sweet
Lemon Boy
Marisol Purple
Mint Julep
Oaxacan Jewel
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Pink Boar
Pork Chop
San Marzano
Sky Reacher
Solar Flare
Sweet 100

Dark Opal
Large Leaf
Siam Queen

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