How Green Was My Garden: Homegrown Tomatoes

“Home grown tomatoes, home grown tomatoes
What would life be like without homegrown tomatoes
Only two things that money can’t buy
That’s true love and home grown tomatoes.” – Guy Clark

Garden 007

After a long wait finally this summer’s tomato crop is coming in! You may find it strange that for a gardener who grows so many fresh tomatoes, I actually don’t enjoy fresh tomatoes myself.  For some reason I have never been able to enjoy the taste of a raw tomato; I need it doctored in salsa or sauce. But that is fine because I grow not only for myself, but for others, and I also plant enough varieties of tomatoes to ensure I have enough tomatoes for all my cooking endeavors as well.

This year seems to have produced a bumper crop of cherry tomatoes, though they are late.  I thought for a while I was only growing tomato vines, and not fruit, and then only green tomatoes, but this recent spate of hot weather has started to turn the green fruit red, finally.

Garden 006

The old standbys are doing well, Sweet 100, Rainbow Cherry, San Marzano, Roma, Amish Paste, Double Rich & Robrecco Paste. But this year I tried a new one organic tomato called “Matina” from Thomson & Morgan which has been an outstanding success.  I grew all my tomatoes from seed this year except the Amish Paste which I get each year from Mother Earth Gardens.

Tomato Matina

Tomato Matina

Other than the Amish Paste & Matina, I did not grow any heirlooms this year, choosing instead to grow more tomatoes for canning and roasting and saucing.  The Matina has been a huge suprise with the volume of yield and how wonderful they are for a nice salad or sandwich slicing tomato.  I even made a fantastic bruchetta with them and plan on using them in a nice salsa as well.  With the continued production of the plants there will also be some canning of them I am sure.

Surprise compost tomato

Surprise compost tomato

One of the surprises I received in my garden this year was a tomato plant that grew next to my compost bin. Obviously it was a plant that seeded itself from one of the plants I placed in the bin last year and somehow one of the tomatoes escaped. It appears to be a cherry tomato so the good news is it has enough time to yield perhaps a few fruits.

I am afraid to write that so far I have avoided many problems with tomato blight or disease for fear that I will jinx myself. Other areas of the country are experiencing severe bouts of tomato and potato blight.  The worst I have seen so far (knock on wood) is some blossom end rot on a potted tomato from uneven watering.  But now that it is warmer and more humid fungal diseases can start to take hold more easily so I will likely keep an eye on the plants, trim any leaves that show signs of yellowing or brown spots and use and organic fungicidal spray if necessary.

Because we also still are behind as far as the growing season goes I think I may look into building some form of greenhouse for my tomatoes to extend the season, some way to encase my raised bed in a big plastic tent to allow the temperature to be a bit warmer once the cooler fall temperatures arrive.

In the meantime, I will be enjoying this wonderful harvest of fresh tomatoes.  I’ve even  invested in a few kitchen gadgets over the years like my Wüsthof-Trident Tomato knife to my Tomato Press to make processing the tomatoes even easier.

One of my favorite food television programs was Jamie Oliver’s “Jamie at Home” where he specialized in cooking meals straight from his organic garden.  He had an entire episode devoted to tomatoes where he cooked a tomato salad, fusilli with salsa rossa cruda, an oven baked sausage ragu and pale pink tomato and vodka consomme. I think I’ll be tapping into that on the old Tivo soon.  But the other surprise I had in my garden has been a second yield of asparagus, only a handful of spears, but it was a fun discovery nonetheless.  And the discovery means I’ll be making one of my other favorite Jamie Oliver recipes for dinner this week, Chicken with asparagus & cherry tomatoes.  I have a lovely little chicken breast from Braucher Sunshine Harvest Farms that will be perfect for it.

I am not want for recipes or ideas that is for certain. I know Andy Williams says that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it is hard to beat tomato season!

One Day of Cherry Tomatoes

One Day of Cherry Tomatoes

One perfect Matina

One perfect Matina








1 Comment so far

  1. David (jacc) on August 19th, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    I’m in the same boat. I grow tomatos galore, but don’t like raw tomatos at all.

    The wife finds them delicious and I’m glad we finally got some hot weather to help ripen them up.

    Yours look excellent.



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