Austin Urban Gardens

Raised Bed Gardening and Eating Well in Austin, Texas

Reflections on an Amazing 2012 Tomato Season June 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — austinurbangardens @ 5:54 pm
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This has been one of the best tomato seasons I’ve ever had, and I did some things differently; so I’m wondering what really worked, and what was just nature being happy.  We did get some early rains that would have helped for sure.  For the first time ever, I had hearty volunteers sprout up in the winter, so on a lark, I kept them warm and watered, not knowing what varieties they were, and was rewarded with huge plants bearing a seemingly endless supply of Matt’s Wild Cherry tomatoes early in the season.  As I type this, there are loads of these tiny tomatoes still on the plants, undeterred by the heat.  They may produce all summer, if I continue to water.

Matt’s Wild Cherry

Because of these volunteer plants thriving in February, I took a chance and planted the seedlings I had started, and some I purchased, late February.  We had no March freezes, if memory serves and I didn’t have to cover anything.  Again I was rewarded with healthy heirloom and hybrids plants with fruit that ripened very early in the season.   The first Caprese salad was delicious, with Purple Cherokees and globs of Burratta.  The over styling of this plate can certainly be blamed on my exuberance for this treat.

First Caprese of the Season

Despite Blossom End Rot early in the season on the heirlooms, especially the Prudens Purple and Purple Cherokee, they set fruit the second time around and were less finicky.  The Celebrity, Early Girl and two grafted heirlooms onto hybrid stock (an experiment I found at Sledd Nursery) put on lots of smallish fruit.  At each harvest, I had more than I could eat, and started coring and freezing bags of them, and giving loads away.

Production Increase

They were delicious for the BLTs we made with homemade bacon.  (Previous post)

Slicers for BLTs

On June 1, still pretty early, I had some time and made some heirloom tomato jam.  I like to baste smoked ribs with this, although mine didn’t get to the desired thickness.  Jam maker’s error.

Tomato Jam (6/1/12)

I got into canning peaches, and only canned tomatoes once, opting to freeze the bulk of them.  Once the heirlooms really slowed in production, I started thinking of pulling the plants up, because gardening in 109 temperatures isn’t fun, but the hybrids kept cranking out the tomatoes.  The kitchen window filled to capacity again, and I decided it was time to can some tomatoes.

Kitchen Window

I did a simple crushed tomato canning, rather than make sauce.    I’d rather heat up the kitchen during cooler times, and fill the house with aromatic tomato sauce smells then.

The either Black Cherries or Chocolate Cherries, I can’t remember what I planted, (and all my markers have washed off) have proceed steadily for the past two months.  So, a typical harvest these last few weeks, looks like this, about every two days.

Routine harvest

Canned Crushed Tomatoes

These little sweet tomatoes are amongst my favorites, but there have been so many, I’ve given lots away.

Chocolate or Black Cherries

I gave some to my friend Kathryn, and they came back to me by way of a quiche, also including our home made bacon.  Bacon, tomato quiche is amazing.

Bacon, Tomato, Caramelized Onion Quiche

The only thing I did differently this season, was plant very early – earlier than any guide recommends.  I fertilized with Ladybug 8-2-4 every couple of weeks, and then with Rabbit Hill Buds and Blooms, after the plants set their first fruit.  Mid way through the season, I gave them some Minerals Plus.  I did not use Bat Guano this year, which was what I believed to be my secret last year.

What nature did differently, was rain.  We had some nice Spring rains which help to balance out the ph in the soil.  And, it didn’t get very cold much after the end of February.  And, I had relatively few stink bugs and no hornworms this season.

So, as with all gardening –  a little luck, some help from Mother Nature, and who knows what else.  I’m just thankful for another great tomato season, and have enjoyed sharing them.  I heart tomatoes.

I heart tomatoes


5 Responses to “Reflections on an Amazing 2012 Tomato Season”

  1. I am so envious of your gorgeous tomato photos! I thought I was planting early, but
    not nearly as early as you did, and though I’m in a different planting zone than Travis Co, maybe I’ll try planting in mid-March next year. It wouldn’t hurt us to get some hoop rows up now that we’re saving a little money on water. (thank you RAIN.) I, too, had blossom end rot on a few this year for the first time, and so did my neighbors. I understand it’s often from uneven moisture, and we really did get some big, soaking rains, so maybe it threw them off kilter a bit. Thank you for sharing your methods!

    • Thanks Margaret!
      Early this Spring, every time I was at a nursery, someone was inquiring about blossom end rot, so I’m thinking it was widespread. About half of the folks I talk to say uneven moisture, the other half believe it is a calcium deficiency. Who knows. Thanks for the comment!

  2. That is one outstanding tomato crop. We are in the middle of winter here in South Australia. I also rely on volunteer seedlings to supply the best of our tomatoes each year. I expect them to appear in august and they will surge ahead because we are coastal and never get snow, hardly even a frost!

  3. john Says:

    Hey People!

    Nice post! i love it! I think we have to start thinking on that, couse the world will need it, we will need it! I foun some info, you migh want to see… Plant Your Food at Home -Tips for home cultivation –


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