While I was in Calabria the first week of May, my parents planted tomato plants in my garden for me: 30 San Marzanos, a couple of Early Girls and few sweet red 100s, which are cherry tomatoes. The majority of the San Marzanos will end up canned in jars, although we do eat a few in salads and I bring them to use in my cooking classes when they are at their peak. (The tomatoes, not the classes!). All the other tomatoes we eat fresh off the vines. Following the "from scratch" theme of this blog, my parents always start the tomato seedlings from the seeds they harvest from the tomatoes of the previous season. The original seeds were the ones they brought from Calabria in the 1970s.
This is what the tomatoes looked like a week after they were planted:
My dad also planted zucchini, peppers (both the Italian sweet and the Calabrian hot), eggplants, and Romano beans. One of his secret is to give each plant a nice drink of "manure tea". Yes, you guessed it: goat manure steeped in water, truly smelly stuff. He gives each plant about a quart of this tea and it acts like a booster shot. It is amazing how they take off.
He always places the seeds of the Romano beans directly into the soil in early April and as you can see from the picture below the plants are already on their way up the poles. My dad always uses old branches to make poles for the beans to climb on.
Here are pictures of the zucchini, eggplant, cucumber and pepper plants.
I also have a wonderful lettuce bed of mixed baby greens that are thriving:
And right next to the lettuce bed are some beautiful potatoes planted by my 14-year-old son, who loves to grow his own potatoes as his own little project. He put them in the soil back in March and here is a picture of them in May:
I will give you a garden update next month so you can see how everything is progressing.