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.
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.
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.
They were delicious for the BLTs we made with homemade bacon. (Previous post)
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.
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.
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.
These little sweet tomatoes are amongst my favorites, but there have been so many, I’ve given lots away.
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.
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.