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February 24, 9 am to 12 noon

SCG All-Hands Meeting

March 2, Friday, 4:45


Board Meetings

Second Wednesday of every month.

Sunshine Weekly Weeder Newsletter

12 June 2013

Tomato Tasting

The tomato tasting on June 8th was a huge success. We had approximately 50-60 people attending with a special appearance by Kinky Friedman. Andy Brown, who is running for Travis County judge in next year's election, also came out and visited with our members.

We had 59 varieties of tomatoes that received comments and scores on taste, texture, and appearance. The range of possible scores was from 1 (OK) to 5 (fantastic). The scores were all over the place, ranging from 1.3 to 5.0. Some tomatoes received very few comments; others received up to 23.

The first category we asked people to judge was taste. Taste can be a tricky category to judge from a single tasting as so much depends on the ripeness of the tomatoes on hand, how they were stored after being picked, and other factors such as the amount of rain/watering the plants received before picking and the ripeness of the tomatoes when picked. The paste varieties are best tasted after cooking, so scoring them on a raw taste test underestimates their flavor. In addition to the condition of the tomatoes, our judges had different perceptions and preferences. Preference for tartness vs. sweetness was an obvious difference among the judges, with some tomatoes downgraded for being too tart or too sweet by different people. No tomatoes scored above a 4.2 and none scored below a 2.0.

The top scoring tomatoes for taste with at least 10 ratings were: Black Cherry, J. D.'s Special C-Tex, Sun Gold (4.2), Jaune Flamme, Dino Eggs, Brandy Boy (4.1), and Sweet Million (4.0). The lowest scoring tomatoes with a score of 2.7 or less and at least 8 votes were: Wessel's Purple Pride, Hssiao His Hung Shih, Wine Jug (2.7), Porter's Pride (2.5), Pink Furry Boar (2.3), Carmelita and Japanese Black Trifele (2.2), Indigo Rose and Roma (2.0).

We also asked people to rate the texture of the tomatoes. Fewer people commented on that aspect than taste, perhaps because texture is harder to judge than taste or was less noticeable. Taste and texture were more positively correlated than other combinations of traits. Tomatoes rated high in flavor tended to get good texture scores and low-rated tomatoes tended to get worse texture scores. A few people commented on tough skins but those comments did not seem to be correlated with low texture scores.>/p>

The last category we asked people to judge was appearance. There were 19 tomatoes that received at least 5 ratings and were scored a 4.0 or better. The top seven were Sweet Million (5.0), Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye (4.8), Rhodia and Indigo Apple (4.6), Black Krim, Persimmon, and Black Cherry (4.4). The bottom-scoring tomatoes in appearance with at least 5 ratings were Porter's Pride (2.8) and Austin's Red Pear (2.7).

This year's tasting results compared to last year's results yielded some expected results as well as some surprises. Black Cherry was the highest ranked in taste both years. It scored a little lower this year, possibly because the cooler temperatures this year have slowed its growth and this variety is just now producing ripe fruit. J.D. Special C-Tex was in the top five in 2012 and moved up in the ranks to second place. Cherokee Purple moved down in the ranks from second to eighth. Two tomatoes that placed in the top ten in 2012 with scores above 4.0, Michael Pollan and Beduin, had scores of 2.8.

The ballot votes give a less complete picture than the ratings and comments written for each variety. Few people filled out ballots so the results should be taken with a grain of salt. Best in show was a four-way tie between Brandy Boy, Cherokee Purple, Jaune Flamme, and Sun Gold. Best tasting was a six-way tie between Brandy Boy, Cherokee Purple, Jaune Flamme, Lime Green Salad, Sun Gold, and Texas Star. Pink Berkeley Tie-Dye narrowed nudged out Jaune Flamme, Rhodia, and Texas Star. Celebrity was voted most prolific with Juliet and Sun Gold tied for second place. Celebrity was also voted the healthiest with Juliet, Rutgers and Sun Gold tied for second place. Oddly, Celebrity was also voted the most disease-prone. Cherokee Purple won favorite tomato status with Celebrity and J. D. Special C-Tex tied for second place.

The complete results will be posted in the trailer.

We would like to thank everyone who participated in this year's Tomato Tasting. This event would not have been possible without everyone who contributed tomatoes, the volunteers who helped run the event, and, of course, our tasters. We especially thank Randy Thompson for hosting the tomato discussion, Janet Adams, Ashwini Gopinath, Renee Fleishman, Maria Beach, and John Falvey for making the event happen, and Berkley Bettis and Michael Hall for their knife skills. We thank Kinky Friedman for joining us to celebrate our wonderful tomatoes and Cody Garrett for making that happen.

Sunshine Garden Usage

Sunshine gardeners garden organically. This means being careful what products are used on the garden. Any product that is marked with OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute, a non-profit organisation) approval is safe to use. For more information go to We share this particular ecology and must nurture it together.

Flower/Shade Garden Team

Do you have a hard time finishing your service hours? Would you like company as you work? Join the Flower/Shade Garden Team! We work throughout the year to keep the garden around the office looking good. It's a great way to get your hours and learn about summer hardy plants at the same time. :)

If you're interested, contact Sandra Ries at 512-743-3628.

Maintaining Sunshine Garden

Membership in Sunshine Community Garden requires that gardeners perform service hours to help maintain the garden grounds and the TSBVI plots. Additionally, gardeners are required to maintain their common areas (the area immediately surrounding their plots including the paths and up to the chain link fence). Maintenance of the common area does not count towards fulfilling the service hours requirements.

Service hours revisited

  • If you garden a full size plot (20X20) you are required to perform 1 service hour per month and 1 special TSBVI hour per 6 months
  • If you garden a half plot (20X10), you are required to perform 1/2 a service hour per month and 1 special TSBVI hour per 6 months
  • If you garden a quarter plot (10X10), you are required to perform 1/2 a service hour per month and 1 special TSBVI hour per 6 months.

There are two deadlines for completing service hours June 30 and Dec. 31. The cutoff for service hours is one month before gardening plot fees are due i.e., service hours run 1 month ahead of the actual season. This is done in order to send out bills timely.

If you have any questions about service hours, please contact your zone coordinator. If you find any discrepancies in service hours up to May 25, please reenter them either in the green binder in the tool shed or on the virtual green binder on the web site, prior to June 15.

Maintaining Common Areas The area around your plot and your section of plots is the common area. The paths are also common areas. Some paths have been covered with wood chips. Spreading wood chips slows down invasion by Bermuda grass. Please share in the maintenance of weeding and mowing of these areas.

Vegetables to Plant in June

  • Malabar Spinach
  • Okra
  • Southern Pea
  • Sweet Potato
  • Pumpkin

Officer and Zone Coordinator Contacts - Sunshine Garden


Zone Coordinators

Other Coordinators

Record Service Hours Online - the Virtual Green Binder

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