Sustainable Farm in Colbert County Alabama
The Jasmyn Rissie is a South African pepper that’s relatively rare in the United States. I’ve never seen a plant in any of the box stores and have never seen any farmers selling the Jasmyn Rissie at their farmers market stands.
The Jasmyn Rissie is what we call a medium-hot pepper. It’s not nearly as hot as a habañero pepper, and probably a bit less hot than the average hot jalapeño pepper.
The pepper itself is round shape, about 2″ – 3″ in diameter, maybe size of a small plum or large cherry. Green at first, as usual, and turns a beautiful red when fully-ripened. I let them finish ripening on the countertop for a few days after gathering. If you refrigerate the green ones that will delay the ripening process.
The peppers are great for eating raw (if you like some heat) and for stir-fries or in recipes. They’re probably a bit small for stuffing, but not out of the question since small stuff mushrooms are a thing.
The photo below shows a jar of Jasmyn Rissie peppers just after I’d jarred them in brine to start the lacto-fermentation process. That’s my preferred way to preserve peppers at the end of the season.
I grew Jasmyn Rissie for the first time in 2020 and found it to be a hardy plant and prolific producer, both at the farm (where it was dry for a good bit of July and August) and in my raised bed garden at my house in Birmingham. Production really kicked in in September. This year, I planted extra plants to sell, along with the peppers when they are ready.
The Costaluto Fiorentino is an Italian heirloom tomato from the Tuscany region of Italy. My research says it’s heat tolerant, but also grows well under a variety of conditions, is VERY productive, and good for slicing, stuffing, and making tomato sauces. That degree of versatility is quite attractive in a tomato!
Because of the intense heat and humidity of Alabama summers, frequent dry periods, lack of irrigation—and my love of Italian food—I decided to try the Costaluto Fiorentino this year.
I discovered the Costaluto Fiorentino heirloom while browsing tomato seeds on the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website and liked what I read.
One detail that SESE does not mention is that these tomato plants apparently grow to something approximating the height of Jack’s beanstalk. After transplanting the seedlings from the starter tray into individual pots, I noticed they were growing exceptionally tall, very quickly. I also learned from a casual conversation with another heirloom tomato grower that there are two different types of Costaluto. Those two factors led me to do further research on the Costaluto Fiorentino to learn more about what I’m growing.
Comments about the Costaluto Fiorentino posted on the Rare Seeds website are quite positive:
The Costaluto Fiorentino is an indeterminate variety—meaning it will produce continuously through the season, provided it’s cared for properly.
The size of the plant is such that the Costaluto Fiorentino will not be a good choice for patio growers. But if you have a nice privacy fence, the container itself should not be a problem. You just need to be able to stake or trellis a tomato plant that will be over 6’ tall. These plants (photo below) are at least 15″ tall in 4″ containers, so they need to be transplanted asap or moved into larger containers. And I have many, many more. 🙂
The seeds I purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange germinated exceptionally well, so I have lots of plants to sell. These will be available on most Saturdays at the Florence Lauderdale Farmers Market, in early June 2021 at the Vestavia Hills Farmers Market, or for direct sale at Shine Springs Farm. Call or text 256-284-2307 for more information on purchases.
Hope to have lots of nice Costaluto Fiorentino tomatoes to sell by early August. I will report back with first hand details on the taste.
2021 is the first year that we’ve grown the Aji Chinchi Amarillo peppers at Shine Springs Farm. So far, we have a nice selection of these pepper plants for sale.
The orange-yellow Aji Chinchi Amarillo pepper is used extensively in Peruvian cuisine. It’s pretty rare here in the US. The taste is described as fruity with medium to medium high heat. According to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange this variety grows to be about 3″ long and is 1/2 to 1″ in diameter, which is smaller than the usual size for Amarillo peppers. By my estimation, the Aji Chinchi should be about the size of our non-irrigated Anaheim peppers or the sweet Melrose Italian frying pepper that I love so much.
We hope to have a large quantity of the Aji Chinchi Amarillo peppers later this summer. It’s usually August before our peppers really get going and the Aji Chinchi Amarillo peppers apparently need a long growing season to get to full ripeness. We will be selling these peppers at the farmstead and the Florence Lauderdale Farmers Market beginning around mid-August.
If you’re a chef in the Shoals area of northwest Alabama, or in Birmingham, and are interested in trying our Aji Chinchi Amarillo peppers please let us know.
In addition to the plants that are now ready for transplanting (shown above in the photo), we also have a few more coming along that will be ready later in June. The current round of plants available for sale (as of June 2, 2021) are in 3″ or 4″ pots and are about 8″ – 12″ in height.
More about the Aji Amarillo peppers here on Mother Earth News: Discovering Aji Amarillo Peppers.
Druzba means “friendship” in Bulgarian. The Druzba tomato is a Bulgarian red heirloom slicing tomato—great for sharing summer lunches with friends. The size is about 4”-5” across, which is about the size of a tennis or baseball.
Like many of the heirloom tomatoes I grow, I discovered the Druzba through the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. The SESE describes the tomato as “excellent juicy sweet flavor” and the fruit as resistant to blight, cracking and blossom-end rot, but also with a thin skin. The fruit grows in clusters.
2021 is the first year I’ve grown Druzba tomatoes, so I can’t attest to the taste on a first-hand basis, but the reviews are excellent.
Reviewers on the Dave’s Garden website—including some from central Alabama and Georgia—describe the Druzba as a great tasting tomato that grows well in our region. Sweet and tangy are two adjectives that jumped out at me.
A reviewer on Mary’s Heirloom Seeds says she grew 20 varieties in 2019 and the Druzba was her favorite, taste-wise. I should note that this reviewer is in a far-northern climate, very unlike Alabama, but the reviews on Dave’s Garden from growers in our area are also very positive.
The folks at Burpee, a commercial seed supplier, describes the Druzba as the “most beautiful heirloom tomato.” Reviews of the Druzba tomato on the Burpee website describe the Druzba as tasty, great producer, and “zesty.”
We will have a limited number of Druzba tomato plants for sale at the Florence Lauderdale Farmers Market in early June.
The Druzba is an indeterminate variety.
Shine Springs Farm will return to the Vestavia Hills Farmers Market on May 26, 2021. The market is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Boy Scout Square, Vestavia Hills, Hwy. 31, next to the Walgreen’s.
Plants available will include tomato plants, pepper plants (hot and mild), squash plants, a few okra plants, and H-19 cucumber plants.
We will have a variety of tomato plants, large and small. Heirloom varieties and “old fashioned” canning varieties.
More details as time permits.
Shine Springs Farm will be back at the Florence Lauderdale Farmers Market this Saturday, May 22, 2021 with selection of heirloom pepper plants, heirloom tomato plants, canning tomato plants, and a limited supply of yellow squash plants, okra plants, and pickling cucumber plants. More details about the exact varieties for this week’s market are coming Friday, so look for an update Friday evening.
Large, medium, and smaller. All ready to transplant into your pots or garden. Some of the same varieties as last time, along with new varieties that are popular in the South for canning.
More details about these varieties available on our Tomato Page.
I will have a few small pots of Clemson Spineless okra plants available. The plants are small right now, so will need to leave in pots for about a week before transplanting.
I have about 10 containers of yellow straightneck squash and about 4 containers of yellow crookneck squash ready.
I believe (as of Thursday night) I will have about 6-8 containers of H-19 Little Leaf cucumber plants ready for sale. The H-19 is a pickling size but is amazing sliced by itself or added to any type of salad. No need to “pickle” it. Great for growing in gardens, raised beds, or pots. The small size cucumbers make it ideal for trellising. The “little leaf” feature makes it easy to see the cucumbers.
Shine Springs Farm will make its first appearance at the Vestavia Hills Farmers Market on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. The market will be open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We’ll be in Booth 23, near the far end from the entrance on the West side (opposite of Molton Street).
Located at 741 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia Hills. This location is also known as Scout Square–where the Boy Scouts sell Christmas trees. It’s one block from Vestavia Hills United Methodist Church.
Tomato Plant Varieties Available Today
We have a booth reserved at the Florence Lauderdale Farmers Market for May 8, 2021, where Sheree will be selling heirloom tomato plants. See below for listing of varieties available this week. Prices range from $3 to $5 per plant depending on the size of pot and how many transplants.
This week’s selection are grown from certified organic seed in a custom potting mix blend that Sheree mixes in wheelbarrow using a combination of Kellogg OMRI-listed potting mix, Black Cow cow manure, mushroom compost, a bit of peat moss (OMRI-listed supplier), a scoop or two of vermiculite, and a bit of Fox Farm Ocean’s Forest.
The tomato plants in smallest pots are $3 each (these are mainly 3-1/2″ to 4″ pots) and have been transplanted at least once from the starter trays.
Next size up is $4 each. Tomatoes in the largest containers are $5 each.
Example of largest container tomatoes that we sell for $5 each:
Learn more about these heirloom tomato varieties on our Tomatoes page.
The Florence Lauderdale Farmers Market takes place at the Old Fairgrounds just off Cox Creek Parkway at 451 Fairgrounds Road, Florence, AL 35630.
This post describes the sweet and mild peppers we’re growing for 2021. This category includes bell peppers, banana peppers, and other types of non-hot peppers.
This is the sweet banana variety I’ve grown every year since Summer 2013. Very productive—especially in the Fall season. I love the taste. This is my #1 choice for lacto-fermentation for salad pickles year round.
“70 days. (pale green > yellow > orange > crimson red) [1941, AAS Winner.] Heavy yields of attractive, banana- shaped peppers, 6 x 1½ in. Eaten at any ripeness stage, but sweetest when red. Great for colorful salads, frying, and freezing. 42 in. plants. Excellent choice for Mid-Atlantic region.” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/sweet-banana-long-sweet-hungarian-sweet-pepper/
Seed Source: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – USDA Organic
“68 days. (green > golden orange) [Dutch variety, 1991] Fancy, flavorful, very sweet bell pepper often featured in gourmet produce markets (except in 2020, we didn’t sell many bulk size packets of these last year, growers most likely didn’t want to make display signs for Corona peppers…). 3½ in. fruits are 3- to 4-lobed, averaging 6-7 oz. Fruit stem separates easily from plant for trouble-free harvest. Choice variety for salad use. Good foliage cover of fruits. 4 ft. plants. Mosaic resistant.” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/corona-sweet-bell-pepper/
“75 days. (green > red) One of the largest and best sweet bell peppers. Sturdy 3-5 ft. plants have an excellent canopy of dark green leaves to protect the high yields of 4 in. fruits. Excellent drought resistance. Great for stuffing.” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/jupiter-sweet-bell-pepper/
“…(Green > orange) Medium, thick-walled bells, 3 x 3-1/2”. The same fine taste as Orange Bell but 2 weeks earlier and with slightly improved yields. Good foliage cover.” From Seed Pack for 2020.
Seed Source: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – USDA Organic
“76 days. (green > red) 6-7 in. long bells with sweet, mild flavor. Very productive, tasty thick fleshed fruit can be used fresh, dried or for frying.” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/napoleon-sweet-sweet-bell-pepper/
Available in ~2nd week of June
“80 days. (green > purple > deep red) On their way to deep red, the peppers stop and linger at a dark purple color (lime green inside) that’s lovely in salads. Medium-sized bells, 3 x 3 in., thick flesh, good foliage cover. 3 ft. tall, mosaic resistant plants.” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/purple-beauty-sweet-bell-pepper/
Note: These won’t be available until mid-June
“52 days. (green > red) [Revived by NC seed saver Rob Danford.] One of the few peppers that reliably produces well in the short Smoky Mountain growing season (150 days or less). An incredibly sweet, bright red, thick-fleshed pimento pepper, 4 x 1½ in. Great raw, as well as for cooking, roasting, and canning. Small (24-30 in.) plants may be closely spaced (18 in. apart).” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange website: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/ashe-county-pimento-sweet-pepper/
This is one of my favorite peppers, if not THE favorite. I fry them, pickle them in brine, add to zucchini relish, and use them in salads and stir-fries.
“(green > red) 70 days. [Heirloom Italian frying pepper discovered in Melrose Park, IL.] Productive plants full of 2 x 4 in. peppers that turn brilliant red early. Very sweet flavor, rich and full-bodied. Excellent for salads, roasting, and stir- frying.” Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: https://www.southernexposure.com/products/melrose-sweet-pepper/