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Tomato Vintage

09.01.11

This year’s tomato vintage sports both pretty substantial fails and victories, but on the whole, it’s a win.

First, the good. I planted space that wasn’t in production last year, on the south side of my garage along the alley. ‘Aren’t you worried people will steal your crop?’, asked many. I figure if they need it that bad, have it. Turns out they did not. The tomatoes in the photo came from that otherwise wasted urban space. Another big win is that I have heirloom varieties like the yellow pear, chocolate cherry, and matt’s wild cherry that I’ve never enjoyed before – one of the yellow pear plants hitting about 6′ tall trained on a string. I also have the best crop of Roma’s I’ve ever had. Lastly: my toddler girls can pick a bowl of tomatoes like this when I had no intention of harvesting – unexpected food-wealth.

The cons. Wet, cold year. And we had a week of nasty brutal spring winds that pummeled my transplants. Later, I neglected many, many plants sprawling about on the ground, some strings broke under the weight of the vines, and all around the tomatoes just didn’t look that pretty or put together. Disheveled. A little like me, with a bit too much on my plate this year. Perhaps they were in tune with my energies. I joke.

I am already enjoying a moment gardeners get to revel in – planning what I’ll do differently and improve on next year. And I’ll take one thing away from this year: get some of the fundamentals right, and the details become not so important at the end of the day.

9 Responses

  1. Jesse says:

    We had a watermelon last year that decided to vine it’s way down to the retaining wall that’s perfectly waist-height for people walking down the sidewalk. We were taking bets of when it’d be smashed. It never was.

    Our favourite tomato find this year was Black Plum. Great for eating, and I’m about to make some dark ketchup with them.

  2. SherryGreens says:

    I like the variety you got there, that is such an amazing picture. I too had some wins and losses, the clear win being the black cherry tomato (looks like your chocolate ones), planted in the right spot. The right spot was the very hottest spot in the yard. I too am eyeing my back alley section against the garage. Potatoes? Tomatoes? Cucumbers? I need all the tiny bits of south exposure I can get…

  3. Your tomatoes are amazing! I have huge quantities (some larger than softballs) but many are still green or just starting to blush. Another two weeks frost-free would be really helpful.

    I too get the question about alley planting and it is a bit annoying. Is there really a huge problem with the vegetable triads stealing produce in Edmonton? I’d say that is more of a Calgary problem… :).

    I’ve planted in the alley for two years and I’ve never noticed anything missing. And, really, how much produce is anyone really going to make off with? I suppose someone could vandalize my lettuce, but such is life.

    The morning sun bouncing off the garage wall does wonders for my plants and these beds are among the first that are ready to go. I’ll be moving to planting beans out there next in the five beds I have on the edge of my property.

  4. Conrad says:

    The alley theft concern is legitimate in Old Strathcona. Friends of ours have had many things go missing from an alley-facing pocket garden, including strawberry plants. Our community garden has lost corn and squash too.

    My alley plot will contain things that are a bit less showy. Taking potatoes or carrots is more trouble (plus you have to know what they are).

    On a more positive note, those tomatoes are beautiful!

  5. Kieran says:

    “And I’ll take one thing away from this year: get some of the fundamentals right, and the details become not so important at the end of the day.”

    THIS helped me come to a realization! I spent so much time and effort this Spring planning the garden. It started as “YAY!” and turned into “homework” over a few days of looking at companion plants, planning on creating micro-climates, building a sheet mulched bed, referencing books & courses, etc.

    Our garden did well despite many of the original details not being implemented. I felt a little guilty though and wondered “what if” but now I see it as “we’ve established the fundamentals, and will learn from this season to make next season even better, introducing some details as we go instead of overwhelmingly all at once.”

    Thanks for the catalyst that lead to this insight!

  6. Ashley says:

    Glad to see I am not the only one with late tomatoes- even down here with the cool spring, everything is a little behind.
    I planted a similar variety to you- though I can’t say I’m a big fan of the chocolate cherry- the skin is really tough. I’m thinking of blanching to remove the skins and then canning them.
    Hooray for back alley gardens! When we lived in edmonton we planted rhubarb, potatoes, beans and pumpkin- and i don’t recall anything getting stolen. When we left for holidays, the pumpkin vine made its way half way across the alley! (probably going after our alley-neighbour’s beets!).
    Here in Lethbridge we’ve started some raspberries in our alley.

  7. I just took a similar photo of a big bowl yesterday – I will post it when I detail my varietals and what I liked – etc… BUT – this is the third year my yellow pears have done NOTHING. Well, this year I got about 12 hard little green pears that have remained hard little green pears. Seeing these, I will try again on the south side of the house. I made some great discoveries, too.
    The Black Cherokee is our favourite large heirloom. Last year, it was the Zeigler – but couldn’t find a plant or seeds for this one by the time I looked.
    The small (cherry) golden Sunspun still take first prize for flavour in our summer garden. But, the heirloom Juliette (miniature roma in shape) was extraordinary and will be planted here next year, for sure. The red zebra was gorgeous and delicious – a cocktail size, and the red Brandy Wine was a winner to many (not to me – I found the flesh too mushy). The Amish Paste did really well this year and is a very flavourful, larger roma shaped tomato that I will definitely use for sauce. I didn’t get enough black cherry tomatoes to really get a sense of their flavour and planted an heirloom Yellow Taxi that was nice, and not as acidic as I sometimes find the yellow tomatoes. The Champagne tomatoes I planted in the front (south) still have not turned colour and ripened But, I LOVE tomatoes. My favourite food of all time and a harvest like this is sheer, unadulterated JOY!
    :)
    V

  8. Hilda says:

    This year was the first year our tomato plants survived all the cold and hail and storms. Of course this also happened to be the year our toddler daughter “helped” pick the fruit too… too bad she didn’t wait till they ripened :P

  9. Kevin says:

    Sherry – squash and corn are pretty safe sun lovers that aren’t exciting for most to steal or trash. Black cherry – will have to consider for next year.
    Bob – looks like you’re going to get your ripening weather.
    Conrad – So much for my comment above to Sherry…I too have considered potatoes. How about rutabaga. Who’d want to steal a rutabaga.
    Kieran – garden guilt is dangerous, and glad I could help curb yours a touch. Always good to hear from you.
    Ashley – the chocolate cherries are meaty, but I don’t find mine have tough skins…interesting. Beans in the alley = genius. Especially dry beans. Who’s going to steal dry beans.
    Valerie – I’m sure your recap will be much more thorough. ;) Thanks for your varietal experience sharing.
    Hilda – toddlers are very ‘helpful’ in the garden, heh? My 2.5 year old is particularly ‘helpful’.

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