Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First Tomato

My first tomato of the season is an 'Odoriko' which we discovered at Berkeley Bowl several summers ago. Eldon managed to find seed through Kitazawa Seed Co. so I gave them a try. They were aphid magnets as starts, but since they went into the ground I've had no problems. I'm growing a group in 2-gallon pots. Both doing well.

A couple of weeks ago, this single tomato was a true tomato-red color, but not quite ripe enough. A little squeeze with my hand told me that it wasn't ready--it had the firmness of an unripe nectarine. Eldon and I checked on it every evening. This summer, we haven't had our typical August heat so the tomatoes have been slow coming into their prime. It should be in the 80s in Seattle this time of year, and we've had rain and mid-60s for most of the month.

Last Saturday afternoon, I peaked at the tomato, and noticed it was starting to pull from the vine. I picked it, raced into the kitchen, and sliced it; setting aside a piece for Eldon. Such anticipation leading up to tasting my first tomato of 2007 from the garden. I was not disappointed--it tasted wonderful! Not only was there a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness, but it had a creamy texture. Inadequate watering can leave tomatoes mealy, and over watering can make them tasteless and cause them to split open.

I wouldn't say I am a "dry farmer," but I do only water when I see it is necessary. A little stress is fine for tomatoes. However, there are some varieties that will succumb to brown rot if they are not watered often enough (such as the sauce variety 'San Marzano'). When the leaves start to wilt, they need to be watered.

The other varieties I am currently growing are a Roman heirloom 'Pantano Romanesco,' 'Arkansas Traveler' (considered a "Hillbilly favorite" by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds), and a small salad tomato 'Patio Orange.' I'll let you know how they're growing. Please send some sun our way in the meantime!

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