Saturday, August 08, 2009

tomato harvest 2009, part 1

Growing tomatoes is always a bit of a crapshoot here in the Pacific Northwest, since the summer weather can be really unpredictable. There are several varieties specifically bred for this climate; that is, they tend to be smaller, have shorter growing seasons, and don't need a lot of heat to ripen. Even so, this is not a guarantee of anything. These toms just increase your chances of eating a vine-ripened tom. Last year, for example, was a terrible year for toms because it was cold and rainy for most of the summer. In contrast, the weather this year has been so hot and dry that you could probably get brandywines without any trouble. 

It's good to know a lot of recipes for using green tomatoes if you are a gardener in the Pacific Northwest. ( toms can be substituted for any recipe calling for tomatillos.)

This year I planted currant and cherry tomatoes. As you can probably guess, these are small tomatoes with a short growing season. In addition, the currant tomato was supposedly a good container plant. I say "supposedly" because I planted it in a container using the same mix that's in my raised bed and the currant tomato is a really unhappy looking plant. In contrast, the cherry tomato is about about as tall as I am (and I've been pruning this sucker back pretty aggressively too!), and is loaded with fruit which are finally starting to turn red. 

This morning I was able to harvest some currant tomatoes. This photo represents about half of the fruit on the plant:

(Seamus doesn't know what's in my hand but he wants to know if he can have some anyway.)

Despite actually yielding fruit, the currant tomato was not a success. First all, I expected a hell of a lot more tomatoes than a handful. Second, they had a weird texture--very leathery skin, and since they are so small, they have a very high skin ratio. Third, and most importantly--they aren't very flavorful. They are as bland a supermarket tomato in winter. Maybe this is due to the health of the plant and if the plant were happier, perhaps the tomatoes would be tastier. But I am a laissez-faire gardener. I will provide a raised bed, water, and a good soil mix and then expect a plant to produce under those conditions. I know enough not to plant a sun-loving plant in shade and expect good results.  But I'm not going to coddle the plant. If a plant does not thrive under the conditions I can provide, then I'll just plant something else. 

1 comment:

L J said...

I've three bushes of greenish - yellow tomatoes at the moment. Hoping that we get some ripe ones before frost cause I don't really like the green tomatoes.