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Green Thumbprints - Heirloom Caprese Salad

July 30, 2015
One of the things I wanted to do after the big move to Austria was to have my own garden.  And, since our new place had a nice terrace with tons of sunlight, I started a container garden and began collecting and rescuing plants from all of our travels.  The plants were a lovely, living souvenir of our times out and about!

This is my second year of gardening here in Austria.  Let me introduce you to my extended green family!

Hen & Chicks (Sempervivum)

These are a family of Hen & Chicks, also known as Sempervivum, that I collected while up in the Alps.  These are the cutest little things... and their chicks are even cuter!  According to Garden Beautiful, these guys are the easiest to care for!

In the back right is the Zebra Hawarthia - spiky little thing with a new plant sprouting at the bottom.
According to Horty Girl, this plant is also low maintenance!

Sometimes called the Mountain Rose, this guy,  aeonium arboreum - the Houseleek Tree, was a stem cut from the arboreum tree in Munich.  After a year of sruviving, this guy has sprouted six new babies.  I'm so happy that it's thriving and doing well!  

Sedum spurium 'Fuldaglut' - This plant didn't fare to well after the dry winter months.  All of the leaves fell off and left a bare skeleton!  But, then came Spring and the tiny young buds grew into long leafy stems... and now, they are overflowing their container!

Agave or Aloe - I'm not so sure - from Gargnano

The green ones in this (very wet) container are called Gray Stonecrop Sedum Pachyclados.  These I saved from Gargnano.  The lone greyish pink one: Ghost Plant Sedum Graptopetalum - I saved from Verona, Italy.  These two plant species had a hard time this winter.  I was left with only bare stems to work with... but I never gave up.  With some love and attention, these plants came bouncing back!

Rocky stonecrop (Sedum rupestre) - Also from Gargnano, these guys have been battling it out with the aphids this summer.

Autumn Joy Sedum - rescued stems after an incident with a falling table in Gargnano.  Whoops!  According to Fine Gardening, these plants produce a lovely deep pinkish flower at the end of summer.  Fingers crossed!

Stonecrop (Sedum sexangulare 'Golddigger') - collected from Gargnano, these guys have really loved the Alpine weather this summer.  

An orphan Alpine plant somehow made its way into my garden.  It has very characteristic black markings on the leaves.  Does anyone know what this is?

This little Geranium plant is a true survivor from last year's garden.  I chucked out all of the old flowers and have reused the spent soil again this year.  I guess from some remaining bit of root this lovely plant found its way to grow underneath my Clematis plant.  These plants are very common in the Bavarian region along the balconies of houses and buildings.

Wild Strawberry Leaf (Fragaria Vesca) - I collected two small plants from Ruhpolding in the Bavarian Alps last summer.  Today, I have about a dozen new plants.  Yay!

The smallest Stonecrop succulents (Sedum brevifolium), pictured in the bottom right corner, have  the tinies 'leaves'.  They were found along a rock wall in Gargnano.

To the left at the bottom is the Small House Leek (Sedum Album) - also found on another rock wall in Gargnano.

 I have fallen in love with the determination and creativity of succulents to survive (and thrive) on full sun and dry conditions.  And, no matter how roughly they are treated (stems or leaves completely severed), these guys grow back again and again.  

They are true survivors - never say never!!!

Now on to my pride (and edible) joy!  Heirloom Yellow Pear cherry tomatoes!  These were given to me when they were just little seedling plants.  Oh, how they've grown!

Another seedling gift - the Brown Egg tomato.  Here they are before they ripen:

And here they are after I came back from a quick trip to Munich - 2 days in the heat!

But, after much watering and apologies, here is my first Brown Egg tomato!

My first harvest!

Italian Reds mixed in!

And what did I make with my first home-grown tomatoes?  Caprese Salad!!

Served with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar and along side a basic pasta tossed in butter and parmesan, these tomatoes could really shine!

They were lovely and sweet.  They were juicy and ripe.  They had great color.  Oh, what's not to like!

Success! I had captured Summer into these fine tomatoes!

Head on over to Bon Appetit for a quick recipe!

In my research, there are hundreds (maybe even thousands?) more species of tomatoes.  And, the red standards (that we have grown up with) are not the only tomatoes.  There are so many more variations in taste, color, and shape!  Known as heritage, or heirloom, these tomatoes are non-hybrid cultivars of the tomato.  Basically, they are 'in-breds or mutts' - I love them more already!  They are openly pollinated and lack the genetic mutation in standard red tomatoes that favor the color over the sweet flavor.  No wonder these tomatoes are considered tastier than their standard counterparts!

However, they have a shorter shelf life and have less resistance to disease - Better gobble them up fast!!

I have fallen in love with tomatoes all over again!

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