Monday, June 7, 2010

The Joy of Tomatoes

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.
Sun Gold tomato

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.
Juliet and Sun Gold tomatoes

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

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.
Cherokee Purple tomato

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!
Early Girl tomato

Eva Purple Ball is just starting to flower, but the plant looks nice and healthy. She's a passalong from Jen as well.
'Eva Purple Ball' tomato plant

My first cucumber at the top of this photo is from a passalong plant from Bonnie at Kiss of Sun.
Home grown tomatoes and cucumber

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.
Homegrown tomatoes

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.


  1. I got a late start to gardening this spring so everything is looking lush and green, but no ripened fruit (yet).

    The Black Krim has a couple of tomatoes on it, the Cherokee purple just started flowering yesterday, one of the passalong Cherry Tomatoes (we don't know the variety because the guy who gave it to me thought he had put pepper seeds in the pot) is fruiting, and one is just starting to change colors, the Green zebras are flowering and I think there may be a handful of fruit on the plant.

  2. My tomatoes are doing wonderfully! Those in pots started producing about 3 weeks ago -- the Mexico Midgets (so tiny!) and Cherry Romas. I have 3 Amish Paste Tomatoes in the garden, and those are HUGE. Just waiting for them to ripen. I don't know that I'll have enough tomatoes to can too many, but we will have lots of salsa made with the chillies also producing abundantly.

  3. Oh I can imagine eating those beauties alright - that salad is exactly what I had for dinner just last night! Your tomatoes look so great. The first one I ate this year was also a Sun Gold. I have 3 tomato plants, 2 doing well but 1 that has spider mites (it's in a pot). I need to be more vigilant!

  4. Your tomatoes look delicious! I've gotten to eat a few of mine already, but right now I'm not seeing any more flowers on my sweet cherry or green zebra. If it's too hot for them already, I'm not sure I'll get any more tomatoes after the ones on the vine ripen.

  5. Your tomatoes look great. I love the shapes colours and sizes. My tomatoes won't be ready until August. By then it will be getting cold again, and even though I grow them in a greenhouse I will still have some that don't have enough time to turn red.

  6. Michelle in KatyJune 8, 2010 at 3:20 PM

    Holy Moley ... here in Katy, Texas we've got so many tomatoes it's crazy. Heirlooms (Amish Paste), Early Girls, and tons of cherry's. I WISH I had thought to weigh the first big batch that came in on Friday. A couple of pounds worth, for sure (we've about 13 plants total). I'm a bit worried, though. First, we had killer heat last week (near 100 every day), then came the rain ... and it still hasn't stopped. The blooms have defintely slowed, and I'm on the lookout for fungus. (All whilst eating a ripe red beauty, of course.)

  7. I'm jealous, I live just a little to the north and I still have a week to go for my first ones. I can hardly wait. I do have tons of plums though, and they are soooo good.