One of the simple joys of our blistering hot Texas summers is a sweet, warm tomato, eaten right off the vine, with the juice running down your chin. Yum!
My first tomato this year was a tiny Sun Gold. It's my first year to plant these. You can pop these little babies right in your mouth. No dribbling.
My second tomato was an ever-so-slightly-larger Juliet. She did so well last year, I planted her again this year. Most tomatoes peter out when the temperatures get above 90; the fruit fails to set. Not Juliet; she produces straight through the dog days of summer.
The cherry tomatoes always produce first. In the full-sized category, the Cherokee Purples are beating Early Girl out of the gate, 3 tomatoes to 1. Here's 2. The third is in my tummy. Slurp!
Cherokee Purple tomatoes are known for their propensity to become scarred or malformed on the blossom end, called "catfacing" for some odd reason. Personally, I like a tomato with character. And flavor. Just so long as the tomato is firm and bugs aren't crawling in and out of the holes.
Here's the Early Girl. I suspect she may catch up and overtake Cherokee Purple later in the tomato race. She's from a passalong seedling from Jen at Rebar and Roses, who said she got something like 75 tomatoes off ONE Early Girl plant last year. WOW!
Eva Purple Ball is just starting to flower, but the plant looks nice and healthy. She's a passalong from Jen as well.
My first cucumber at the top of this photo is from a passalong plant from Bonnie at Kiss of Sun.
To keep the birds from pecking at the fruit, I try to pick tomatoes as soon as they begin to turn color, and let them ripen them on the windowsill. It's easier and more effective than draping the plants with bird netting or hanging red plastic Christmas balls on the plants. If I had more than the seven tomato plants I have, I probably couldn't keep up.
This year, I wanted to keep track of the total weight of my tomato crop, but I completely forgot. I'd guess we've eaten at least a pound already, and more are on the way. Can't you just imagine these beauties sliced up with some Buffalo mozzarella and dressed with basil and olive oil? I can!
Do you grow tomatoes? How's your crop doing?
Words and photos © 2009-2010 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.