“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.”
Robert Frost

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

For the Love of Tomatoes


The best reason for a home garden is the delicious flavor of a summer tomato
picked fresh from your own vine.




 
There is a mysterious thing about a homegrown tomato that is different from the store-bought versions.  It is that special aroma and taste that occurs only when the fruit is picked and kept at the plant's ideal growing temperature.   The perfect temperature to keep a tomato living so that it sweetens and continues to ripen is 65°F to 85° F in an open oxygen-rich location.

Commercial tomato growers have tried to convince us that the red balls that appear in most grocery stores are "fresh" tomatoes. Often they are picked while still green and tasteless. Usually packed in plastic and cellophane and gassed with ethylene gas to redden their skins on their trip to the northern markets.

Now we have greenhouse-grown fruit that has been raised under grow lights so they will turn color and are left on the vine in clusters.  This again is an illusion to convince the buyer that this is a vine-fresh product.  Better, but still missing something.

Now that genetic engineering has improved the shelf  life of tomatoes, they can remain in a kind of suspended animation for several weeks or even up to a month without turning to mush.  However.....they're still missing something. That something is aroma, flavor and nutrients!

I  have to admit that some of the grape tomato varieties are sweet, but they still don't have that elusive taste of a homegrown tomato.  In the winter I buy them and dream of summer when I can have a truly delectable tomato right off my own tomato plant. 

This year with our hot weather, the tomatoes have done well.  I was very stringent about keeping them watered and they are looking wonderful.  As you see in the photos below, my tomatoes are planted in large pots. I decided that since sunlight is at a premium and the tomatoes could not compete with my five foot tall Bee Balm (monarda) that this would give them a better chance of survival. This places the plants about two feet higher than the surrounding flowers. So far, so good! We should have some ripe ones in just a few days.  I can't wait for a good old fashioned BLT sandwich!






A "Traveling Onion" (on left) tries to plant it's new bulbs in the tomato pot. A baseball size tomato showing color!

This year the varieties I am growing are Celebrity and Better Boy. Last year I grew an heirloom Brandywine and while they were really delicious, I ended up with less than a dozen tomatoes.  This years harvest is going to be much better! I usually use them up fresh, but occasionally I will freeze them whole.  I just throw them in a plastic zip bag and they go right into the freezer.  I use them within a few months to make  pasta sauce.

While I was reading up on tomatoes for this post, I found the cute quote below.




 
"Only two things
that money can't buy:  
That's true love 
and
homegrown tomatoes." 
                   Guy Clark
 

18 comments:

  1. We have a grape tomato plant growing in a big pot on our back deck. Every day there's currently about 6 little red tomatoes ready. In a month's time, we'll be inundated with wee tomatoes!

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    1. I love the little grape tomatoes! My husband bought our plants and nixed my request for the wee ones!

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  2. Your tomatoes look wonderful! I have mine in pots as well and have moved them around over the season to catch the best light. I am thinking of buying plant stands with wheels and keeping them up on the deck next year, that way if it's threatening to hail, I can move them under the end that's covered. You are oh so right about the special quality of homegrown tomatoes. Love that quote :)

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    1. I like your thinking Jane, anything to protect those precious gems!

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  3. Mmmm....delicious! Nothing like homegrown tomatoes. And they are used in so many ways and in so many recipes.

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  4. I haven't tasted a homegrown tomato in years. You look like you've got a fine crop there Diane. I wish I had green fingers instead of Killer Paws!

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  5. Oh, don't feel bad SK. I've lost many plants over the years, it's just trial and error and lots of luck. I'm sure your Killer Paws are good for lots of other things around the house! HaHa.. ;o

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  6. Very nice Diane - you are lucky you can grow yours outside. In our climate they have to be in a greenhouse or they will never survive. I've got some on the verge of giving fruit but everything here has been behind the usual growth season due to the awful summer weather.

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  7. Hey! You have been nominated for the One Lovely Blog award by us! If you would like to accept the nomination, here are the instructions on what to do next http://twobirdsonestonewedding.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/one-lovely-blog-award/

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  8. Diane, your tomatoes are looking delicious. Yummy, they look real good. Are tomatoes easy to grow? I live in South Florida, so lots of sun but I am known for killing a cactus ;)

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    1. Hi IA, tomatoes should do really well in Florida. Just make sure to always keep them watered and use a cage to hold them up. You won't know if you can grow them until you try! Start off with just one and if you plant one in a pot that is less than 5 gallon size you will have to water daily and use extra fertilizer. It's kind of just luck, one year I had a beautiful huge tomato plant and no tomatoes! :0

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    2. I will try. I always wanted to grow them... I should just do it and not fear my lack of greenery techniques.

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  9. Dear Diane - I am with you. Tomatoes that are store bought certainly are not the same. I have been getting just a few for on the table but am looking forward to enjoying lots more. In the summer I eat so many that I begin to look like one. So nice there is someone else out there that knows homegrown is the best!

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    1. I am so ready for a fresh tomato! We have a couple that are almost ready to pick!

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  10. LOVE the quote at the bottom and I couldn't agree with you more! I have a tomato that's inviting me to pick it now through the window from where I type. I think it's time. Tomato Pie for dinner perhaps?

    Happy seeing beautiful!
    http://seeabeautifulworld.blogspot.com/

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  11. Your tomatoes look wonderful, and you’re right about the aroma – shop bought ones just don’t have it. My dad's greenhouse used to smell amazing when the tomatoes were ripening. He also grew the most wonderful cucumbers and rhubarb and potatoes and runner beans and peas, and, and – I miss those days!

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    1. That sounds marvelous Barbara! I always loved going to our local greenhouse when I lived at home. I always remember that sweet, earthy smell! They had a little raised pond where they kept aquatic plants and goldfish, it was always such a treat to go there especially in the winter! Oh, for the good old days!

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  12. MMMmm...when can I come to your house for those BLT sandwiches? I'm hungry!

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Thank you for leaving a comment! I do read them all and will try to respond if I'm able. Please know that all comments are appreciated, I love to hear your thoughts on my posts! ~ Diane