Friday, October 2, 2009

Arvada Gardeners Taste Test! by Dusty M

What's a really cool and unique way for gardeners to entertain friends and colleagues at the end of summer? How about arranging a tomato-tasting and cider-pressing party? That's what Arvada gardeners Tom and Char Gottlieb did on a recent Saturday afternoon. It was their 12th annual gathering, held despite the July hailstorm that flattened their garden and destroyed all their apples. So this year, particularly, the guests were asked to bring their favorite tomatoes and apples to share.

The afternoon began with the cider pressing. Apples were chopped up and their juice was squeezed out of the Gottliebs' cider press, then tasted by all. For the next event, tomatoes were cut into bite-size chunks spread out on plates, one tomato variety per plate. The plates were labeled and grouped into categories: big round tomatoes, cherry and small tomatoes, and paste tomatoes. Guests were asked to mark their favorite varieties on a list for each category. The final event was a potluck supper in the front yard of the Gottliebs' farmhouse. Several Jeffco Master Gardeners joined the party. Char Gottlieb is a Master Gardener and had extended an invitation to her Jeffco colleagues to share in the fun. Many of the other guests were also gardeners.

Some were introduced to tomato varieties they had not yet grown and eaten.
Others indicated their favorites hadn't changed. The winners in the voting:Big round tomatoes – Goliath and Giant Belgium tied for 1st, Crow's Feet was 3rd.Cherry & small tomatoes – Sun Gold, 1st; Sun Sugar, 2nd; Wapsipinicon Peach, 3rd.Paste tomatoes – Red Pear, 1st; Speckled Roman and Italian Gold tied for 2nd.

With a grin, Char reports: "It's possible there was some stuffing of the ballot box and other irregularities, such as buying votes, paying off judges, etc. This was a very unregulated election. My personal favorites this year are Sun Gold, Pruden's Purple, and Italian Gold. And next year . . ." We suspect that Char will study her guests' evaluations over the winter. She grows her tomato plants from seed and grows a lot of plants (to share); it probably won't be difficult to add another variety or two.