Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tomato Garden Notes

Here it is, the last part of September, and I'm still waiting for my tomatoes.
We've harvested all the corn, most of the beans and cucumbers, had a good crop of basil and enough monster cabbages to feed every cole slaw lover in the valley. We're eating fresh tomatoes every day but I've only had a few small boxes of ripe tomatoes altogether.


But there are lots of green ones still on the vines. I'm thrilled with these large clusters of San Marzanos but I'm worried they won't be able to ripen before the first frost. Our weather lately has been gorgeous- in the 70's every day with blue skies and slight breezes. We've had a number of lovely dinners outside under the twinkle lights and early sunsets. But nights are getting so cold, too cold to ripen tomatoes.



I planted eight different varieties of tomatoes including the old reliables like Early Girl and Roma, but also some new-to-me kinds that I found at our local Saturday Market.  The Carmellos and Donas were described as tomatoes found in Italian and French farmer's markets. All the tomatoes are short season tomatoes, 58-70 days, for a better chance on getting red, ripe fruit before frost. This is the one thing I have learned in the eighteen or so years of trying to grow tomatoes in the Great Northwest. Forget about those meaty Better Boys and Beefsteak tomatoes that I grew in Michigan. Those varieties don't ripen on the slopes of Mt. Hood.

In the box, the tomatoes on the left are the tried and true Early Girls. The tomatoes on the right are the new varieties. The two large, pear shaped tomatoes and the green ones on the vine are the one risky plant I bought called Giant Italian Paste tomatoes. They are a 100 day tomato and I didn't count on eating any ripe ones. Surprisingly though, those two red tomatoes beat out the Donas to ripen which are a 65 day tomato. They are huge, meaty and will be great for sauce. There are not so many on the plant but I can definitely imagine that planted in a place with nice hot summers (like Italy) they probably produce abundant amounts of giant paste tomatoes for great pasta sauces. I'm glad I planted it and would plant one or two again next year.


This tomato is called a Heinz. It is diminutive but the plants have produced profusely. They are a firm, meaty tomato that have the characteristics of a roma but those romas are not ripening very well so I think next year I should plant more Heinz and less roma.


I have made numerous tomato sandwiches with the Heinz. Maybe that's why I haven't made much sauce. I'm eating too many tomato sandwiches. Is it possible to eat too many fresh summer tomato sandwiches?



No. I don't think so. As long I can get fresh mozzarella and there is sourdough bread and basil leaves, the tomato sandwiches must continue as long as possible, as many as possible.
And of course, as long as the juicy, ripe summer tomatoes last. Which won't be much longer so let's make some more sandwiches while we can! And also Tomato Tarts and some roasted tomato pasta sauce.   Hurry! before summer is over!

Wait. What?

1 comment:

  1. Ooooh... I need to make a tomato tart. Right now. Well, for lunch.

    The frost that we had was so light that only the tips of the tomato plants got burnt, so my tomatoes are all okay. Making sauce today. But it was enough to finish off the basil, which is very sad. I miss the basil. Summer is over.

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