Sunday, May 2, 2010


Plant Test
As promised, here's what little information I have about the seedlings that many friends of Cole Canyon Farm will be testing over the next six months, give or take. Most of the information is from the Johnny's Seed Catalog (Pumpkin/Squash) or Gary Ibsen's TomatoFest website (tomatoes) unless otherwise credited. We have not grown these here at Cole Canyon Farm and that is why we are so looking forward to hearing about the outcomes of your testing. If you need basic Squash or Tomato growing information, send an email to Cole Canyon Farm and we can discuss specific growing challenges in your garden environment.

Let's start with the Pumpkins/Squashes:

AMERICAN TONDO: An old Italian variety (then why is it called "American"?) this beautiful ornamental pumpkin has deep orange skin with green stripes between the heavy ribs. It weighs between 6 and 14 pounds when ripe. This is a long vining plant and needs room to roam. 100 days to maturity, expect two pumpkins per vine. Shelf life is 4 - 6 months.

KNUCKLE HEAD Pumpkin: A fairly new hybrid with freaky bumps and warts. Moderate vines bear pumpkins averaging 12 - 16 lbs. Expect two pumpkins per vine. Medium vine length. Lots of pictures of this wierdo on the internet.

MARINA DI CHIOGGIA Squash: 105 days. "This heirloom squash traces its roots to the coastal town of Chioggia, Italy. These large, dusty-green, bumpy, turban shaped squash average 10 pounds. The rich sweet flesh is deep yellow-orange and simply delicious in pies or baked. In Italy, it is prized for gnocchi (and fall ravioli!) and for roasting."

LONG ISLAND CHEESE Squash: Quoted from Seed Savers Exchange: "C. moschata) East Coast heirloom long remembered as a great pie squash by people in the New York and new Jersey areas. Named for its resemblance to a wheel of cheese. Flattened fruits re buff-colored with deep orange flesh, 6 - 10 pounds and a good keeper. 90 100 days." Note: Martha Stewart featured this pumpkin a couple of years ago in her October issue; great recipe for a vegetable stew served up in a hallowed out Long Island Cheese Squash. Gorgeous.

NAPLES LONG: Or Long of Naples on some sites; this is by far the biggest of all these specialty pumpkins, growing up to 25 pounds. From Johnny's: These large, peanut-shaped squash can weight 20 - 25 pounds. The skin is a deep green that turns tan in storage. The flesh is bright orange, and the flavor is superb - rich and very sweet. 125 days.

SPECKLED HOUND Squash: Quoted from The Cook's Garden: "A winter squash that's as gorgeous as a gourd, but so much more scrumptious. Beneath the randomly patterned blue-green and orange rind is a dense yellow-orange flesh bursting with marvelously concentrated sweet, nutty squash flavor. Growing to 3 - 6 pounds, it's a joy to hold and carry. Pumpkin-shaped, silky smooth and waxy with shallow furrows and a strong green stem. Easy to harvest from plants with open habit.

MUSQUE De PROVENCE: Quoted from Local Harvest: "Musquee de Provence is a French heirloom and is somewhat rare. It is also known as Fairy Tale, with deep ridges and a very sweet flesh. Good storage.

And now the tomatoes!

NEPAL: Marie at Roger Reynolds Nursery asked me to find this one for her. It's a beefsteak variety, originally grown in the Himalayan Mountains. It produces large, deep red tomatoes that weigh up to 12 oz. It does well in cooler climates and is a good keeper when picked green and allowed to ripen off the vine.

AUSTRALIA: Regular leaf plants produce fruit that are large, red, heartshaped with few seeds. 85 days, indeterminate.

BLACK ETHIOPIAN: A favorite Russian heirloom tomato from the Ukraine. Very productive plants yield copious amounts of red-mahogany-bronze, 6-oz plum-shaped fruit. Rich, fruity, tangy taste. Rare. 81 days, indeterminate.

CARMELLO: A French tomato with exceptional flavor. Produces well in cooler climates.
DONA: Both Carmello and Dona have been de-hybridized by Gary Ibsen, both are French Market tomatoes, and both are said to have excellent flavor in cooler coastal climates. We have offered Dona before to eager growers in the Aptos/Santa Cruz area. Glad it's back and I'm anxious to hear how both these plants fare.

EARLY WONDER: Free seeds from Tomato Grower Supply with all the usual hoopla about early fruit set, great flavor and best in short season climates. Let's see how it does here.

INDIAN MOON: This is a Navajo heirloom featuring good production of 'beautiful, blemish free, medium sized golden-globed meaty and flavorful tomatoes. 75 days, indeterminate, yellow/orange. The Navajo live in pretty hot and dry climates, so we shall see how this plant does here.

JAUNE COEUR DE PIGEON: Plump pear shaped tomato from France, it's actually a yellow pear. 75 days, indeterminate.

OLDE WYANDOTTE: I believe I am from Wyandotte country, but the map calls Wyandotte country nearly all of the Northeast and the word means 'those defeated by the Huron'. This tomato, though, is a late season golden/yellow beefsteak with a terrific fruity flavor. I doubt if any Wyandottes got to taste it, but we will.

I welcome any additional folklore, anecdotes, and growing notes about any and all of these unique plants. We'll blog about it in the fall.



  1. We grew the Long of Naples this year. Fantastic squash. Smells almost like a watermelon when you cut it. Very sweet for a squash. Delicious. Can't rave enough about this squash! We will definitely be growing these again next year.

  2. American Tondo- I bought some seed for next season to compare with Tonda Padana, which I suspect it is. Maybe a selection from the original? The flesh gets sweeter and drier as it ripens. The 25 ft vines climbed over my bean fence (7 feet), my cucumber fence, neighboring flowers, 4 rhubarb plants (possibly killed them), and tipped over a tomato cage- so yes, I would also consider them vigorous.