Tomatoes. Could there be a more stereotypical home garden or farmers’ market favorite? Growing various tomatoes with taste and character is one of the primary motivations for our home garden. We grow big ones to tiny ones, black ones, red ones, orange ones, and red ones (and maybe pink next year). All of them have lots of flavor and interesting character. Most all are heirloom varieties. The little orange ones cross-pollinated in our garden a few years ago and when I planted seeds for what I thought I was going to get, I got the little sweet orange ones. I think they are a cross between a yellow pear and a sweet red cherry. I am now out of those seeds so I will be trying cloning this fall to keep the plant going through winter.
The first tomatoes of the season are eagerly anticipated. The first couple to be picked are the highlight of summer and the first indication summer is upon us. For these first tomatoes the simpler the preparation the better. Whether that is a caprese salad with homegrown tomatoes and basil and mozzarella, or a simple sliced tomato with good salt. These early gifts are relished and evidence I did something right in the garden.
As summer progresses, our use of tomatoes expands into salsa, gazpacho, and giving a few to friends. This time in the garden also usually brings the first usable quantity of a variety of tomatoes; it is not just the early producer giving us tomatoes, it is all of them. This makes for great looking tomato salads and lots of fun.
As summer starts to wind down we get to the time when the tomatoes are producing in full swing. That is where we are now in our garden. I bet we harvested 25-30 pounds of tomatoes this weekend and have that much more that will be ready in a couple of days. The tomatoes are too good to can. They are too juicy to make canned salsa (canned, as in processed and jarred). There are too many to just eat. I eat them with almost every meal now, including breakfast. I’m not complaining about having so many tasty and interesting tomatoes because I know in a mere month or so there will be none and I will be faced with the dilemma of whether I should buy some from the store – tomatoes in look and name only, devoid of the taste and juiciness of the homegrown tomatoes I could not eat fast enough just a few weeks before.
For the next couple of weeks, while the taste and availability are still relished, we now have to find good homes for many of them, to share with friends. As a comedian from Maine joked, at least I think a saying similar to this came from a Maine comedian: Why do you lock your car doors in Maine in August? A: So your back seat is not filled with zucchini. We don’t grow zucchini, but we do grow tomatoes. Lock your car doors lest the back seat be filled unexpectedly.
When we anticipate the first frost and pick all of the green tomatoes, we will have a whole new array of uses for them. Fried green tomatoes are always good; but, when you have 30+ pounds of tomatoes you can’t fry them fast enough. We could always store a few in paper bags to help them ripen for the last of the summer’s harvest. Our primary use will be green tomato chutney (I have mentioned we are huge fans of chutney, right?). Luckily that is still a few weeks away. When a post on green tomato chutney shows up on here you will know summer is over and it is time to prepare for winter.
This past weekend was not all about tomatoes in the garden. The tomatillos continue to ripen and I will eventually make more salsa verde. The hot peppers, jalapeno, Serrano, habanero, and poblano, continue to produce. I am still trying to figure out how to preserve (not including freezing) the hot peppers. There might be a pickled pepper post someday. I had a jar of preserved Italian hot peppers in oil that were great so I might try to figure that out for the jalapeno and Serrano peppers. The poblano peppers will be roasted and stuffed. That leaves a lot of habanero peppers. Maybe they will be frozen. When I started growing the poblano peppers I did not anticipate 7 foot tall plants, but that is how tall our plant is now. In the photo above Ava is just standing there, not squatting down or sitting.
We also picked a few more ears of popcorn. It is drying now and will be ready for movie time in no time.
The various, mostly still unidentified, pumpkins and gourds are growing. Hopefully we will get a few sugar pie pumpkins for eating this fall. I know we have bottle gourds developing.
Enjoy this summer’s tomatoes before they are gone.