1685 West 1st Avenue, Columbus, OH 43212, Columbus, OH
Joe Cluts has been an organic gardener for most of his 68 years and has been growing heirloom tomatoes since before it became hip. The Cleveland Magazine says Joe: grows 97 distinctive types of tomatoes, and a few years back I had the chance to spend an afternoon sampling some of them with him. The husband documented the event, and then ate the subjects along with me. There were rounds, ovals and heart shapes; one that looked like a red chile pepper; and another that showed a starburst center when halved. The names were as colorful as the fruits. We had Snow Whites, Sun Golds, Rainbows, Ukranian Pears, Banana Legs, scallop-edged Ponderosa Reds, grassy flavored Black Plums, tart Cherokee Purples sugary Ground Cherries, herbally Green Zebras, striped Hillbillies, and Yellow Stuffers that looked exactly like bell peppers - See more at: http://clevelandmagazine.blogspot.com/2011/08/tomato-time.html#sthash.RaFKsdSV.dpuf.
When he planted his own garden, his goal was to stop at 57 varieties, like the Heinz 57 recipe. But those numbers kept creeping upward when friends gave him seeds from their family heirloom varieties or picked up others while they were traveling the world.
Today, the Cluts’ garden boasts 97 different varieties of tomatoes, everything from Ground Cherry Tomatillos and Sweet Millions to Hillbillies, Cherokee Purples, Green Zebras and Banana Legs.
“To me, they’re all yummy, yummy, yummy,” Joe says.
His system. Joe’s 50-by-150-foot garden features intensive raised beds made of a mixture of horse manure and sawdust.
Every spring he puts on another layer of the stall cleanings from a nearby horse farm, plus sand whenever it’s necessary, to break up the hard clay soil.
“And now we have soil you can grow stuff in,” Joe says, noting the amendment acts as a fertilizer and helps hold moisture in the ground.
Each tomato plant also gets its own support cage made of 6-inch square woven concrete wire, the same stuff that encircles the entire garden, more than 5 feet high, to keep out wayward deer and neighborhood children.
Aside from the myriad tomato varieties, the Clutses also grow onions, garlic, potatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, green beans, and more.
The garden is a food source, bragging source, money source and hobby. (Farm and Dairy Agricultural News, Aug. 30, 2007).
To wet your appetite for good tomatoes, watch A Chef's Life, Episode 5, Tomaoes.
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