Tomatoes (and newsletter writers) Gone Wild
You may have noticed that here at Deep Harvest
we are unequivocally pro-tomato. Eleven years into farming, we’re still experimenting with an obscene number of new varieties, ever searching for the best and the brightest (ie the most flavorful and highest yielding) solanaceous fruits possible this side of the Cascades. Why? Because the people demand it!! Ok, not really. Simply because with think they’re fun, beautiful, delicious and generally beloved. Am I right? Tell me I’m right! For some practical, but mostly whimsical reasons, this season we’ve sought varieties with traits we haven’t previously offered in our CSA or seed catalog. For example, we trialed various apricot-sized fuzzy tomatoes (all too slow, not tasty enough), Cherokee Purple look-alikes hoping one was as delicious but not so crack prone (again, no dice), Big hand-sized heirlooms, because we think people love those (here there were winners, namely the big creamsicle colored Oma’s Orange and our favorite tomato named after a Russian Space traveler—Cosmonaut Volkov). We won’t bore you with the trials and tribulations of our 1oz determinant red tomato trial. You get it, we have an infatuation that at some point may need to be addressed. But for now… on to tomato care!
Tomatoes are far and away the gold medal winners in categories of neediest and riskiest crops. We seed these divas in early February on expensive heat mats in our start houses. Come March, they’re potted up into 4-inch pots (500 4-inch pots) and get watered early each day to avoid going into cool nights with wet leaves (they hate that!). In May they’re deeply, carefully planted into greenhouses, tunnels or outdoors in black plastic with drip irrigation and trellised with t-posts and twine using the Florida weave (google that one!) or twisted up twine hanging from a special tomato trellising device called a tomahook. We spare no expense to keep them feeling well supported! Once a week, May through mid-August the tomatoes get pruned. Our indeterminant (indefinite growing) tomatoes are snipped to two leaders— that is, we select two main growing stems and cut off all other suckers that appear in order to maximize airflow and minimize chance of disease. Our determinants and cherries just get pruned to make sure harvest is quick and easy and that good airflow is possible. And, and, and— my oh my yipes—I can talk, write and think about tomatoes forever. Please forgive me. My love is clearly vast and overwhelming and maybe oppressive. Sorry tomatoes. And sorry to those of you who are still reading this. Errr… ok….. tomatoes. We love em. They’re difficult. Time consuming. Expensive to grow. But if they don’t get the ever-terrifying late blight, early blights or one of countless other tomato grower terrors, they’re terrific— tomatorrific??? Oof. Ick. Cutting myself off. Thanks for going on that journey with me. The end!