Friday, September 14, 2012

the tomato cycle

I'm not what you would consider a tomato lover. I don't have a healthy appetite for them. But each year I plant a few, and experiment with new varieties, in addition to growing two of my favorites. And every summer, when I'm picking them in mass quantities, I ask myself why I do this, plant so many. For the most part, I give my tomatoes away, keeping aside one or two a week for myself. But fortunately, I have family who eat them like candy; so I'm doing it for them (I tell myself). Maybe one year I will plant a variety that will revolutionize my dietary menu. Experimentation and the thrill of discovery... isn't that what gardening should be about?

(from top, clockwise): Big Daddy, Yellow Pear, Italian Ice, Orange Wellington

My crop this year included Big Daddy, a wonderfully sweet and meaty tomato that holds up well when sliced for sandwiches such as vegetarian BLTs (with soy bacon) or atop a toasted bagel with cream cheese; Yellow Pear (an heirloom variety), which is so prolific in my garden that I have a hard time keeping up with the harvest (but this is the family favorite); Italian Ice, my current favorite due to its very mild taste and firm texture; and Orange Wellington, which in my opinion is the most beautiful slicing tomato I've ever grown. 

I prefer to plant indeterminate varieties, or those that grow continuously until first frost, because part of the fun for me is to see how large these plants can grow in their single season (the Yellow Pear is always the winner, growing beyond two stacked tomato cages in height). 

Of course, I already have my eye on a couple of new varieties for next year. And I'm sure I will find room in my small garden for just a few more...