July 31, 2009 at 11:31 am

Vera Videnovich
Green tomatoes on the vine

green tomatoes on the vine.

Am I a tomato snob? I see tomatoes in the stores all year and have been known to buy Romas or “vine-ripened” in the winter out of desperation. I always complain when I taste the store-bought version. Last week I tried my first summer field-ripened tomato of the season: a Sun Gold (from Tomato Mountain). It makes me wonder why I buy them in the stores off season.

I’ve been selling other veggies at Chicago markets (Logan Square and Andersonville) since early Jun. This explains why I’m not blogging for the Local Beet as much. There are still customers at that time who come asking for tomatoes. It’s nearly August and I still don’t have any ripe tomatoes. I often wonder if it’s worth the effort to force the season with plastic hoop-houses when I have so many other seasonal field-grown veggies to deal with. Yes, “field-grown.” I’m a tomato snob that loves to taste the summer sun in her tomatoes, not a forced imitation. I think it has something to do with a combination of full sun and warm soil that gives the tomatoes their flavor.

This year I doubled my tomato production. I finally pounded in tomato stakes last week every 4 to 6 feet in the rows and wrapped the plants with baling twine to the posts. I use the Florida Weave, a high-density planting system that lets me use less space for more plants. Since the plants are off the ground they’re easier to pick and less prone to disease. I hope.

It took a few days to finish trellising because I worked it around my harvesting/weeding/planting schedule. The process leaves me covered in tomato plant “dust.” As I looked down at my sun-bleached arm hairs they were a beautiful light green. It made an interesting trail of green in the shower when I washed up later. No Hulk references, please!

tomato rows

tomato rows, trellis system hidden by leaves. peppers and eggplants on the left.

On this last day of August I’m still waiting for my own field-grown, vine-ripened tomatoes. The cold spring has pushed back my harvest date, which could be another three weeks. I’m waiting to see how my 28+ varieties turn out. Yeah, I went a little overboard with the seed catalogues this spring. I’m hoping my enthusiasm is worth it.


One Comment

  1. Bob McCamant says:

    Out here in Provincetown we’ve had a very odd season tomato-wise. First there was warm weather early on, which caused the plants to set fruit way earlier than usual. Then we had nothing but rain and cold for a long time, so very little midseason fruit got set. Now we’re having some hot weather, but it’s a race whether that fruit will ripen –before the annual blight sets in, or –before we leave for fall. Anyway, we’ve had half a dozen outdoor fullsize tomatoes, and a fair number of small ones (both SunGold and heirloom “currant” varieties) but no sign as yet of the usual glut.

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