Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Tomatoes Are In

On deck supply, July 29, 2012
      The success of my gardening year is totally dependent on the quality of the tomato harvest.  As long as it is a good tomato season, everything is okay.  If I could plant only one crop in my garden, it would be tomatoes.  If I could plant only two, it would be tomatoes and more tomatoes.  I know the tomato season is in when there are more tomatoes on the porch than we can currently eat.  Or when I can give away some tomatoes because there are more in line.  There are enough now to start freezing some.  So although I am complaining about the heat, I should actually be thankful for the tomatoes.

      When you want a lot of tomatoes, you have to plant a lot of plants.  This is the tomato section in the back garden with two rows of 17 plants in each row.  I have learned my lesson to stake and desucker tomato plants in order to get tomatoes that you can find.  A plant on the ground with lots of slug eaten tomatoes is not a thing of beauty.

        Same two rows of plants, but from a different angle.  The two tomatoes in front are Cherokee Purples, one of my favorites.  But so are the Brandywines, Black Krims, Chocolate Cherries, Yellow Jubilees, Marglobes, and many others in the garden.  Note the row of peppers growing in front of the tomato plants to take advantage of the sun at the base of the plants.

Closer shot of the Cherokee Purple

      We actually had rain the other night.  One point one inches in fact!  What a blessing.  These are some clumps of unripe Chocolate Cherries the morning after.

And a volunteer cherry tomato plant

      And these are the Glacier Tomatoes, an extra early tomato that is supposed to ripen in 55 to 60 days, and does.  And has a pretty good tomato flavor to boot.  They are rather prolific, and got the season off to a good early start.  Yet they are still producing heavily now, and make a very good salad tomato.  I will be saving some seed for next year.

      This tomato jungle is what results when you let the plants grow on their own.  Lots and lots of branches, and tomatoes on the ground that are hard to find.  I usually end up cutting off the first six or eight branches at the bottom of the plant, keeping only the central leader.  This is what the same plants look like just minutes after a good trim:

      The critters have done a lot of damage this year to the fruit on the vines.  In this dry summer, even hard green tomatoes are being eaten for their moisture.  And not just bird pecks.  Big chunks of tomatoes gone in short periods of time.

A now worthless Dr. Wyche tomato

Two Brandywines, lost before their prime
      So this summer I have been picking tomatoes just as they start to ripen, as they get that first tell tale color change.  I would rather have vine ripened tomatoes, but you see the results above of waiting too long to pull the tomatoes from the vine.  The very first picture shows the tomatoes ripening on the porch, and they taste just fine.  I will let the tomatoes ripen on the vine at my park plot, as there are thousands of tomatoes there to satisfy lots of critters.  I expect to get at least some vine ripened fruit there.
      But so far, so good.  The tomatoes are in!!

1 comment:

  1. Hurray for tomatoes! I am like you, if I could only plant one thing it would be tomatoes. I also pick mine just a day or so before the birds, etc get to them. If I let the completely ripen on the vine they will peck at them every time! I also like your idea of planting peppers below the plants. I have planted swiss chard and kale around the bottoms of mine before, it gets so hot here that they benefit from the shade the tomatoes provide.

    Your plants looks so healthy and well organized.