Saturday, February 8, 2014

Proud Ladies in Their Gardens

I can't resist daydreaming when confronted with an old, evocative photo.  You can almost smell the aroma of the heated foliage in photos from sunny days past.  Old women surrounded by verdancy that mirrors their inner life which still lushly flowers.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Enough with Tomatoes Already!

I am sick of collecting tomato articles from the 1800s.  The fact that I do not have a sunny yard in which to grow heirloom tomatoes has begun to nibble at my spirit as disastrously as a tomato hornworm chows down on your prized plant.  How is it my life path wandered down a vegetable garden barrens?  I just assumed I would have a lush garden and pull a wagon loaded down with squash and tomatoes up to the kitchen door every day!  Like wrinkles, I thought big gardens came with growing older.  Where am I going to gently putter when I am in my dotage for pity sake!? Where is the allotment system when you need it!?    Enough!

Have you read My Life on a Hillside Allotment by Terry Walton?  My car read it to me as I commuted...a vicarious allotment experience. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

This Is Not a Tomato Blog

All roads lead to tomatoes recently.  I have been hi-jacked by a tomato tangent.  I am fighting to free myself.

These folks are there for you if you need more tomato fun though:

The Amistad Trial and The Tomato Pirates

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Take Two Tomatoes and Call Me in the Morning....

This isn't any different than the nonsense in ads today about this and that new fruit but it is still amusing as fewer constraints are on the language of quackery.   

I realized after reading many "medical uses of tomato" articles, that in 19th century writing liver ailment meant constipated!  Liver ailment indeed...

The Dr. Bennett mentioned was quite a character.  I have a little pile of articles about the man who seems to have been crack-brained opportunist with a huge ego.

Commenting on the 5th point from the above article I say "what...?".  Malaria? 

And if you aren't tired of hearing about the tomato's virtues, the following article from 1834 goes into the details of a gentleman's bowels.

From the New York Farmer. 
Like most persons of studious or sedentary habits, I often am more or less incommoded, and ray health impaired, by inaction of the stomach and bowels, so as to be under the necessity of resorting to medicine, principally cathartics. In order to enable our readers perfectly to appreciate what I am about to say of a remedy, this state of the bowels is always in some degree accompanied with a sense of straitness of the chest, and besides a general uneasiness, and lassitude, yet with the head ache, or some degree of pain in region of the liver. It seems to me a recurrence of those symptoms that accompany attacks of what is called by my physicians, a liver complaint, to which I have lieen a good deal subject. The appetite instead of being keen becomes imperfect, with a peculiar taste of the mouth, as if something was wanting, and in the functions of digestion, to constitute perfect health, for which cathartics are only a temporary relie, fnot a remedy.
The common Tomato, used in making gravy, at once removes this taste of the mouth; in a little time quickens the action of the liver, and of the bowels, and removes all the above noticed symptoms and feelings. I regard it as an invaluable article of diet, or, if you please, as of medicine, or of medical diatetics. With me it has always been my object of solicitude, to find out such diet, as should supersede the necessity of medicine. Except in pickle, which I cannot use, I eat the Tomato in every imaginable mode of dressing, and find it perfectly adapted to my wants. In the hope of being of some use to others, these facts are stated. The Tomato is of great use to me. It is raised with less trouble than any other vegetable that I have any knowledge of. It was first planted six years ago, drops its own seed into the ground, and has produced bushels, every year since, with no other trouble than once digging the same ground, in spring, and one or two hoeings, on a spot of perhaps six feet square. It makes a good pickle, and is raised with one hundredth part the labor and trouble of an equal quantity of cucumbers. But, one other object remains to he stated. I incline to the opinion, though without having yet fully tried it, that the Tomato may be made into a rich sauce, for meat, and be kept through the year, or from season to season of the fruit.* The gravy, I know, even in the hottest weather of summer, will keep perfectly unchanged for several days, in a common open dish in a pantry; and this I know, because, as my cook does not like the article, I have contrived to keep it over, when she neglects my directions. If properly prepared, and bottled, and well corked, it would certainly keep good, in an ice house, or perhaps in a common cellar, or under water, of a low and uniform temperature. At any rate if found to be as useful to others, as it is to me, it will be quite desirable to find out how it may be best preserved for use. As a pickle kept in brine, or vinegar, 1 could not use it, and I am inclined to think that its good qualities would be much diminished, for any one, by this mode of preservation. It seems to me, that, of all the articles of diet, or medicine, that have come to my knowledge, theTomato acts most directly upon the liver, and thus on the bile. Publish this if you please, and let others try it, and make their own observations. I know that several, persons of my acquaintance have derived a like benefit from the use of it.
Constitutionally predisposed to a torpor of the liver, and the abdominal viscera, I have, through life, been subject to the necessity of using cathartics, until having discovered the good effects of the Tomato.  In all cases, except in such above described, my flow of animal spirits have always been uniform, rather abundant than otherwise, sustaining severe mental effort, even to 12 and 16 hours each 24, for weeks in succession, always without other stimuli than ordinary food and drink. Wine never exhilarates, except us it increases my general health; and ardent spirit always depresses the tone of my mind. How far they may be regarded as peculiarities, I know not, but think proper to stute them, for the sake of a clear understanding, and in a sincere desire to be useful to others. I have never known the effect, even in the slightest degree, of any sort of intoxicating drinks. Health exhilarates, and ailments depress my spirits.—When afflicted with inaction of the bowels, head-ache, a bad taste of the mouth, straitness of the chest, and a dull and painful heaviness of the region of the liver, the whole of these symptoms are removed by Tomato sauce; and the mind, in the course of some few hours, is put into perfect tone, like a new violin. The facts certainly merit a narration, and I can but hope they may be of use to many persons. The true plan of life for men of mind, and especially for men of study, and much mental effort is, so to live, as to have our food supply all that is necessary of medicine. A wise man will soon learn to relish what agrees with his temperament, and reject all else, in food and drink. To which I will only add, that much employment of the mind, particularly in men of slow habits of the body, slow action of the bowels, calls for a larger proportion than they generally use, if temperate men, of liquid food or drink.   (Do you believe this man!??...what a self centered idiot!)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Matilda Brotherline's Tomato Adventure

Matilda was a real little girl who won a prize for her recitation skills in 1828. That is all I found in a quick search. She may have lived in a Frankstown home like the Jacob Lingenfelter family. His house was built in 1824.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The War of 1812 and Tomatoes

The War of 1812  had even more to do with tomatoes, and seeds in general, than one would think!  The article below is an interesting view on how the war effected New Englanders.

The United States relied on Europe for most of its seeds until then. While people gave away seeds, traded seeds and sold their own extra seed stock, large commercial seed producers were more a product of necessity when the government stopped importation and then the  trade embargo of 1807 took effect.  We had some really fast ships that ran the blockades and cleaned up financially when they made it back with goods, but, in general,  the War of 1812 hurt merchants and caused depressions in many coastal towns.

In this illustration the Embargo Act of 1813 is personified by a huge 
terrapin, who seizes a violator of the law by the seat of his breeches.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Only For the Tomato Obsessed - Circa 1870 Tomatoes

James Gregory was the respected seedsman from Marblehead, Massachusetts. 

If you read this article (I liked it) the problem consumers had in identifying 
what they were buying
becomes clear. Articles such as this where a respected seedsman  gives a review of the current 
available tomatoes were popular.  Without them you were just hoping the description was accurate.  
Names were the hook to suck you in! Adding the word "Improved" to an older variety gave a tomato
 new life.  Or simply relabeling a variety with a more snappy name.

Complicating things, seeds offered didn't necessarily remain true to type over a decade or two.

If you don't want to read it, 
scroll down and see the great tomato engraving
at the bottom of the page.

Annual Report of the Secretary of the Massachusetts State Board of Agriculture, 

Volume 19, Parts 1871-1872

From the Report of the Committee. James J. H. Gregory, Chairman

Over thirty years ago I sold the first tomatoes ever brought into the market of my native town. At that time we knew of but one variety—the large red ; a year or two after, some of the purple sorts began to creep in. For several years past I have raised for seed purposes upwards of twenty varieties of this popular vegetable. Amidst so many varieties the new beginner stands confounded, asking, "What shall I plant?" Let us first examine into the characteristics of some of these varieties, and then, having these before us, we shall be prepared for a discussion of their merits. 

The old classification was into Large Red and Round Red; Large Red meaning a large-sized tomato of an irregular shape, and Round Red, any flat-round or spherical sort. 
Grouping together such of the varieties now before the public as admit of being thus classified, under Large Red, Alger, Chihuahua; and under Round Red, Wonder, General Grant (#9 in illus.), Charter Oak, Mammoth Cluster, Essex Early (#3 in illus.), Crimson Cluster, Orangefield, Powel's Early, Trophy (#2 in illus.), Valencia Cluster, Boston Market (#8 in illus. plus, see a pretty engraving at bottom of this page), Tilden (#4 in illus.) New Mexican, DeLaye, Rising Sun, Lester's Perfected, or Fegee, and New White Apple, Grape, Cherry and Plum. Some of these grow a little irregular, but for the most part are round in shape.
 Subdividing into spherical and flatround, I should put into the first class Mammoth Cluster, Charter Oak, Orangefield (#12 in illus.), Essex Early, New Mexican, New White Apple, Grape, Cherry and Plum. Let me here note, that, probably owing to a growth interrupted by drouth, the second setting of the fruit of a round variety may be irregular in shape. Into the second class go the remainder, with the limitation that Tilden's Tomato, DeLaye, Cook's Favorite, Maupay, Keyes Trophy, and Rising Sun, hold nearly an intermediate position. Early York, Philadelphia Early, Hubbard and Dwarf Scotch, would be classed with Large Red, except for their size. The Fig Tomatoes, yellow and red, make a class by themselves. 

Suppose a beginner was asked which of the sort he should plant for Large Red; I remark that Alger is early and prolific; Chihuhua is very late, enormously large, but apt to decay before fully maturing. I also add that the Round Red sorts are much the more popular in the market. Of the Round Red kind I will here remark, that for want of proper care in selecting seed stock, and also from a natural tendency to deteriorate, which may be influenced by locality and season, they will sometimes grow irregular in shape. Of those named, Cook's Favorite has so deteriorated with me, that for the future I shall not grow it. Tilden, though yet an excellent tomato, is not so regular in shape as when it was first sent out. (By the way, the same was said of the General Grant tomato by 1886.  It had become less smoothly spherical.)

Let us now classify our tomatoes with reference to earliness. First, however, let us dismiss the Cherry, Grape, Plum and Fig sorts, with the remark that with the exception of the Fig they are all early sorts; that for flavor they cannot be surpassed; that they are all highly ornamental; that they are the best sorts for preserving in sugar; that they, particularly the Grape and Fig, are highly ornamental when seen growing, or brought on the table for decorative uses; and, finally, that the Fig, as its name would indicate, is fig-shaped, and has been so nicely preserved as to make quite a good imitation, in both appearance, color and flavor, to the fig of commerce.


Discussing the tomato with reference to size, I class Dwarf Scotch, Early York, Hubbard, Essex Early, Keyes, General Grant, Charter Oak, New White Apple and Orangefield, as below the average; and believe their peculiar place (of all but Orangefield) to be as early tomatoes, though in yield both Early York and General Grant are hard to surpass. The Trophy is decidedly the largest of tomatoes yet introduced that are available for market. The spherically round tomatoes are more apt to fail in filling out solid than the flat-round sort, and particularly is this true after the hottest part of the season is past. They are also more liable to be green, unripe and cracked near the stem than the other sorts. Tomatoes differ as much in flavor as do different varieties of apples; and soil and seasons appear to have some influence. Some are very sour, some sweet, others at times bitter, and again at times a rotten flavor is present. The quantity of the crop depends a great deal on its earliness. I have had a yield at the rate of over one thousand bushels of ripe tomatoes to the acre.

I pass from the general discussion to the merits and peculiarities of some of the varieties. I find both Alger and Keyes (see article at bottom of this page...Mr. Keyes was from Worcester, MA, which is near my town) to be tomatoes of excellent flavor, and these are each distinguished by a foliage very similar to and suggestive of the potato, to which the tomato family is allied; the flavor of each of these vegetables suggests the other; and the fruit of the tomato suggests strongly the ball of the potato. The Boston Market tomato is of good market size, is early, colors well all over and fills up very solid. This is the favorite sort around Boston, where leading market gardeners have their different strains. Around New York this kind has not always given such satisfaction, the gardeners there appearing to lay more stress on size than on some more valuable characteristics, which have to be sacrificed. General Grant closely resembles Boston Market, but is somewhat smaller, and perhaps rather more solid; it may be a little earlier and is somewhat smoother. I consider this but a strain of the Boston Market. The Mammoth Cluster is large, round and showy, but is too inclined to be hollow to be considered an acquisition. Orangefield and New White Apple make a class by themselves. They may be called fruit tomatoes; there are no other sorts that equal these for eating uncooked, as we eat an apple. They are somewhat small in size, but of elegant shape and color, contrasting beautifully with each other when brought on the table in a dish in their natural state. They peel as readily as a peach, and their flavor is unsurpassed. The vines of Dwarf Scotch, De Laye and Wonder are all dwarf in their habits and growth. DeLaye is a superb tomato, both in color and quality, when you can mature the fruit; but it is very late and quite a shy bearer, so much so as to be of no value except for its curious habit of growth, the leaves being very dark green, and exceptionally thick, while the stalk is very stout. Wonder, I have grown but one season. It somewhat resembles DeLaye in habit of growth and bearing qualities, though the plant is larger and more productive. Dwarf Scotch is the most dwarf variety having the habits of the common sort with which I am acquainted. I consider it valuable to those gardeners who seek an early kind, and have but little room to spare. Keyes's Prolific was much over-praised when first introduced, and a reaction in public sentiment has caused it to be ranked lower than it deserves. It is early, a fair bearer, yielding fruit sweeter than most varieties. Maupay is a large, solid, handsome, late sort, having quite a basin around the stem. Early York is somewhat irregular in shape, very early and very productive. Pejee and Lester's Perfected are so  standard kind throughout the New England and Middle States. However excellent in every other respect a tomato may be, a purple color is death to its prospect for general market purposes. The Tilden does best with me on low, rich land, where it grows to a large size, fills out well, and its color is of a peculiarly brilliant scarlet. Like the Lester, it appears to be more popular in private gardens than in the public market. The Trophy is the largest of all tho round kinds. On my grounds, grown on a large scale, it proves to be as a whole, very symmetrical and remarkably solid for so large a variety. I consider it a tomato of great promise, and know of no other variety that I would sooner recommend for family use or for market purposes. It will not yield in number equal to many other sorts, but then the magnificent size makes all amends. I had a number of clusters this season that had nearly a peck in each.

The yellow and white varieties are closely allied; the white being of a light straw color, and each of these has a sweet flavor peculiar to them. It is somewhat singular that this fact is true of several kinds of berries, among which white varieties are exceptional. White strawberries are sweeter than the red sorts; the same is true of white raspberries, currants, blackberries and I think I may add the white varieties of grapes. (If you haven't been to Seed Savers, check out their selection of heirloom types.  Here is a white tomato.)

As food for stock, tomatoes should be of a value analogous to apples, as they are closely allied, the acid of each being malic. Cows will eat them ravenously, consuming nearly a bushel of green ones at a meal. I have not seen much increase in the flavor of milk when tomatoes are fed green, and have never fed them ripe. As tomatoes will yield over a thousand bushels to the acre, and are already on the ground, requiring no shaking off, this comparative value is held worthy of a test by experimenters. The large yellow sorts would probably be the best kinds to grow.

Tomato vinegar is largely manufactured in New Jersey, by a patented process, but into which, it may be very safely assumed, sweetening in some form enters. It is said to be very profitable.
Some hue and cry has been lately raised about the tendency of the use of the tomato to produce cancerous diseases. I have as yet seen the name of no reputable physician connected with this theory, and as the acid of this fruit is identical with that of the apple, I presume the charge would be as reasonable against one as the other.

As regards the cultivation of the tomato, this is so generally understood that hardly more than a remark is required under this head. The tomato will not grow in the open air before the ground has become warm, and all planting earlier than this serves but to injure the plant. They are oftentimes started too early in hot beds, and because overgrown, are spindling before they can be transplanted out into the open air. I would not advise to plant the seed under glass earlier than April 1st, nor to transplant it into the open ground earlier than May 20th. Those planted for an early crop should be put in ground not very rich.

James J. H. Gregory, Chairman.

I really like tomato engravings!