miss tomato 2009 competition

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I’ve been sneaking in trips to garden shops this week between readin’ and writin’.  Tomatoes ensued.  It’s always so difficult to choose.  I aim for six plants, plenty for our small family of two and my canning and drying activities.  Aim, I said.  I always feel this deep dissatisfaction when buying tomatoes.  It’s greed, plain and simple.  I want it all.  It’s so hard to balance the days to ripening, types of tomatoes, the size of the plants, and deliciousness.

So I add another row.

And thus, I present to you the contestants for Miss Tomato 2009.  They all support gay marriage, because they were raised that way in their country.  They will appear in green ruffled evening gowns with yellow sequins in the order in which they ripen:

  • Silvery Fir Tree (58 days! to ripe, determinant, little slicer) – lacy foliage, heavy producer, early.
  • Sungold (65 days, indeterminant, cherry) – sweet, orange, cracks on the vine but worth it.
  • Chocolate Cherry (70 , ind, cherry) – haven’t tried.  I’m a big fan of the deep, bloody, burgundy tomatoes.
  • Principe Borghese (x 3) (80 days, det, paste) – I’ll blame Amy of Our Home Works if these go wrong. ;)
  • Aunt Ruby’s German Green (80 days, ind, slicer) (pictured) – husband has a thing for green tomatoes, largely based on the movie Fried Green Tomatoes.  Don’t ask.  And yeah, I know.
  • Black (85 days, ind, slicer) – Nom nom nom.
  • Brandywine (85 days, ind, slicer) – Every single year.  Very poor yield.  But I.  Just. Can’t. Stop.  At least I resisted a Purple Cherokee this time.
  • Best neighbors in the world gave me not one, not two, not three, but FOUR Cherokee Purple starts.  I would have resisted, but they were from my own damn tomatoes — seeds saved from last year.  They’re tiny and I am out of room, so we’ll see what happens.
  • I bought a large Early Girl on sale at Fred Meyer’s.  I haven’t had much luck with FM’s tomatoes.  Call me a sucker.  Territorial still doesn’t have the Oregon Stars in, and I can’t find any viable ones elsewhere in town.

I think I ‘m going to devote the new row only to paste tomatoes.  I still have one more to buy, but Territorial is plumb out, and I can’t find it anywhere else.  My husband would be happy with exclusively cherry tomatoes, but I rather like fussing over the big ones, watching them fruit, grow, and ripen.  We lose a few to disease, malformation, and critters.  And when they’re ready, all warm and musky and juicy….ah.  The agony, the joys.  The soap opera in the garden.

Now if you please, maestro, warm this mOth@f&ck@ up.

it’s business time

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“Have fun!” he said, clean as a whistle and handsome in his slicker as he pedaled away jauntily on his English three-speed.

“Can’t wait to see you tonight!” she said, equally vigorously, drenched and covered in compost mud.  She waved her shovel in the air as he sped down the street.  He didn’t look back.

i say tomato

dscf2022Now that I’m back in Eugene, after a most excellent research month somewhat dampened by a grueling trip home on metallic flying bacteria traps across country (swine flu, anyone?), I’ve got the garden on the brain.

I feel as if I’ve missed all the delicious Ramping Up to Garden Season this year.  I haven’t had time to browse the seed catalogues or even plan what I’ll be growing in all my rows.*

This week I have to either (1) spread my own compost, or (2) buy compost if mine isn’t ready, and prep the rows for tomatoes.  There’s a bit of weeding to done; I took care of most of it before I left, thank goodness, because the unweeded parts are overrun.

By the time we rolled out of bed this morning, had a debriefing session with the cats, and stopped in for a waffle at Off the Waffle (notice new website featuring the review from yours truly), the farmers’ market had been pretty much decimated.  I noticed that some of the tomatoes were already leggy and overgrown, and all the uncommon kinds were gone.

So…help a laggard out.  What’s shakin’ in the tomato world this year?  I’ll buy starts for my favorites this week if I can find them — Saucey paste tomatoes and Sungold cherries.  Oregon Star won best paste at Territorial; that’ll be my second choice if I can’t find Saucey.  I’ve had great success with Willamettes, so I’ll probably buy some of those or other Oregon-developed slicers.  And I’m always drawn back to some variety of Brandywine, since those fat, juicy, meaty, sweet heirlooms so delicious and I love their funny leaves, even if they aren’t heavy producers.  But I’d like to try something new. I haven’t had much luck with the Czech and other Eastern European varieties — I heard that they do fine in the cooler part of the season and then can’t handle the heat of our late summers.  Dunno if this is true.

Which tomatoes you putting in?  What are your old favorites and new experiments?  Which cultivars should I try?

All I know is I’m looking forward to this:

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Mmmmmmm.  Let summer begin!

*I’ve got the caneberries, seascape strawberries, artichokes, leeks/shallots/garlic, rhubarb, some leftover favas and overwintered fennel well underway, plus my usual herbs and a hopeful start on cilantro, so I don’t feel as if I’ve neglected the whole thing, but I missed all the tulips and most of the daffodils, which just makes a person feel unsettled, know what I mean?