Friday, January 27, 2017

Last of the Tomatoes

Last summer I tended 26 tomato plants, of several varieties. They yielded enough for us to enjoy the fresh fruit every day in August and September, and also to freeze many bags of salsa and puree.

All good things must come to an end (luckily this is also true of bad things!) and today I opened my last bag of frozen tomatoes. They are processed with onion, garlic, basil, and oregano, and I will cook the batch down with some grated carrot to make pasta sauce. It's simmering now; smells marvelous.
I took the opening of the last bag as a cue to dig out the Fedco catalog that arrived in December. I kinda wish it would arrive in January instead; in December I am too busy, and not yet weary enough of winter, to appreciate its arrival. Nevertheless, I am glad it is here now, helping me dream of long summer days.

I'll be ordering Sungolds cherry tomatoes, for sure. They are always the first and last to produce; I was still picking Sungolds when the frost came. I imagine I will have a few volunteers as well, since they are so prolific I always miss a few. And, importantly, they are my mother's favorite! Since I refuse to grow squash for her (takes up a ton of garden space and also ewwww) I owe her these at least.

Garden peaches are another favorite. A small, yellow tomato, they have a relatively short growing season - 71 days - and very sweet fruit.

I'll also be reprising the Jubilees we got last year. They were a surprise, which Fedco substituted for the Cosmonaut Volkovs I had ordered. Their season is a bit on the long side for Maine - 80 days - so it's a risk. If we get cool June, or a rainy summer, they may not produce. But they were so beautiful, and so tasty, that I'm willing to take the chance.

I didn't love the Oregon Spring variety we got last year. The flavor was a little underwhelming.  It is a full size tomato with a very short growing season - 58 days - that will thrive even in cool summers. I was tempted to get it as a hedge against a bad season, but the flavor, while good, suffers in comparison to the other varieties...and flavor is, after all, the whole point.

So, what to get in its place? I could return to the Cosmonaut Volkovs that have performed well in the past, but I do like to try new things, so I am leaning toward the Berkeley Tie Dye, a full size short season tomato said to have an almost spicy flavor. Based on my quick Google image search it appears to be a very handsome fruit as well - maybe that shouldn't matter but I am an artist, after all.

Like many Mainers, I don't mind winter, but I spend much of it dreaming of spring.

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