We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
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Sunday, July 27. 2014
We must be stupid. Year after year, we invest gardening effort to produce delicious home-grown varieties - and, if we're lucky, get to eat them for maybe 6 weeks. And part of that time, you are elsewhere.
Does that make sense? No, but it makes hobby-sense in the same way that trout-fishing does. Hobbies are not economic - which is why we term them hobbies. Do the math.
All that those good garden tomatoes do, for a few weeks from August to September, is to make you hate store-bought cardboard ones and restaurant ones for the rest of the year. Nobody in my large gardening family has harvested a single tomato yet this summer (OK, it's been a cold summer due to climate change), not even a single cherry tomato.
There are lots of vegetable crops one can grow successfully up here, and harvest sometime between June/July to frost in October: rhubarb, peas, beans, summer squash, winter squash and pumpkin, greens of all sorts, fruit trees of course and grapes, berries, root crops, onions, cucumber, corn, etc. Why bother with all that when those things are dirt-cheap at the store? What we really grow best in our gardens are fat deer, fat chipmunks, fat rabbits, and fat woodchucks.
Tomatoes? Not a one yet. I love a tomato sandwich: white bread, mayo, salt and pepper, and fat slices of tomato hot from the garden.
Why do we persist? I think it's about the power of intermittent positive reinforcement from a few of those tomato sandwiches. That's how fishing and hunting work, too.
We New England Yankees may have no sense, but we have our traditions and our seasonal habits which are the fabric of our lives, rational or not. Well, not rational at all if you value your free time above zero.
One tip for those in my situation: Buy big fat beefsteak tomatoes at the supermarket and grill them, sautee them, or bake them. Some flavor appears. Better than nothing.
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Don't bother explaining. If you have to explain to someone why you garden, fish or hunt, they won't understand no matter what.
One benefit of living in the uncomfortable sub-tropical part of Pennsylvania - tomatoes early and often.
Unless it's too wet, then the plants rot. Very good so far this year.
Check out www.backyardfarms.com. They grow tomatoes in Madison, Maine, year round, on over 40 indoor acres!
Picked my first cherry tomatoes this week in Sioux Falls. Lots more tomatoes coming if we don't have an early freeze. My favorite way to enjoy the cherry version is to skewer one between two olives, then bury in an ice filled cocktail glass. Hit that with a couple ounces of gin. Resist the vegetables (fruits?) until the gin is gone, by which time the tomato is mostly frozen. Delicious treat on a hot afternoon.
Live in Cali gold country. Had tomatoes last year until mid December. Looks like we'll be buried in 'em this year. Along with the usual Early Girl, Roma, Better Boy, trying an heirloom called Mark Twain. Meaty fruit from 8 oz. to 2 lbs! I will not eat store bought styrofoam masquerading as tomatoes. Gonna make a bacon & tomato sandwich right now.
Florida. Hot as Hades. Tomato tops burn easily here, so having nearby shade actually helps. Grew so many of 'em a couple of years ago I made my wife cry. I am insensitive when it comes to homegrown tomatoes; is there help for me?
Next year try Oregon Spring, they only need a short growing season.
A tip I read recently-do not keep tomatoes in the fridge!
Apparently low temperatures destroy the enzyme which gives tomatoes their distinctive taste.
Since I read this I have kept bought (as well as home-grown) tomatoes in a fruit bowl and the taste is spectacularly better.
They now all taste as though they were freshly picked.
Of course this has nothing to do with the post's fundamental thesis with which any sane person must entirely agree-some things we just do for fun!
I've been getting a few Sungold cherry tomatoes here in Sandy Hook for the last couple of weeks. A bit of a tease, but keeps me going until the Brandywines come in in August.
Because we're stubborn, very stubborn. And because those thrice-blasted cabbage moths are impossible to keep out of the kale, cabbage, and every other member of the cole/brassica family (which is most of the green ones!).
If one has a good freezer, beans are the best crop to grow in terms of return. Properly frozen beans beat commercially frozen every-time. You can easily grow in a small space far more than you can eat, and unlike summer squash, it is good frozen.
Now, if you want insane try growing eggplants or sweet potatoes in New England!
I do realize that euphemisms change, often generationally, but I have noticed "retard" and retarded being bandied around a bit here. What are now mostly obsolete insults such as moron or cretin were clinical terms at one time. Mental retardation euphemistically described a host of conditions that are now specifically named or hyphenated, and thankfully a number of causes for various conditions are no longer common or are treatable. "Retard" was often uttered in ignorance or fear by schoolchildren, and it can be frightening to see somone so afflicted. I am not a PC enforcer, but I would ask for some restraint and consideration for those who have had retarded children or siblings. It was always a stinging slap to see loved ones who struggled so hard to do what is simple for most to be subjected to scorn and disrespect.
To get back on topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-QzLIjL1u4
Hear, hear. As the Grizzly Mom of a kid on the spectrum, I appreciate you bringing this up. When I do, I either growl or rant, and am accused of being over-sensitive. But you ought to hear the ignorant bullying middle school boys in the less prosperous part of my town sneer at the "Tard Bus" when the Special Ed bus picks up kids. My end of town, people are better at being PC, and faking compassion so don't say such things.
Guy Clark was exactly right, you don't turn down true love because it doesn't often happen, now do you?
Erp, what am I missing? Isn't there a thing called a greenhouse and can't it be used to grow things in inclement weather? Add some time to the growing season? Give you lots of quality hobby time? Away from the hustle and bustle? Get your hands dirty and make a lovely mess?
Having spent the first half of my life in New England, I sympathize with attempts to grow tomatoes there. Not easy.
It seems to me that the Roma tomatoes, which are very common in supermarkets these days, are more tasty than the supermarket tomatoes of my childhood. Nor can I complain about paying under 50 cents a pound for tomatoes. I eat all I can.
Wish we could send you some - we are covered up in them here in Middle TN.
We started seeds inside under grow lights and had foot tall seedlings. Then they all mysteriously died (first time ever to have that problem.)
So we bought seedlings at the local co-op and planted them in April. We now have a bumper crop and are currently canning salsa, making pico de gallo, roasting them, freezing them, dehydrating them, and sharing them with friends & family. Our current favorite for tomato sandwiches is the Cherokee Purple, an heirloom that gets huge.
One thing we've learned after nearly 40 years of gardening is that every year is different!
New England? Cry me a river, I grow them in Canada, in the foothills of the Rockies.
Got tired of the usuals. Sent away for some seeds
-Blondkopfchen - German
-Beaver Lodge Slicer and Sophie-Alberta, Canada, home bred, I did not know.
-Amber Colored, Azoychka and Aljaska - Russian, supposedly they are tomato crazy and have bred some cold climate short season varieties.
-A purple one and a stripy one whose names I forget
-Potato leaf white.
We always have a huge surplus. My wife freezes them and then they add the magic real tomato flavour to winter meals.
I like to use a product called Danish Viking Smoked Sea Salt on my fresh tomatoes that I buy at a local farmers' market. You can get the product at http://www.salttraders.com/danish-viking-smoked-sea-salt/
(BTW, I neither work for nor have any stock in that company.)
It is absolutely delicious on fresh tomato slices. Of course, YMMV but I love that smoked flavor.
I've had cherry tomatoes for three weeks now and regular tomatoes (mid-size) two weeks and beefsteak for one (you know I'm in a similar micro climate). What I did was buy Heirloom varieties plus a few early hybrids that stress flavor from any place dumb enough to sell them back when they were selling starts of cabbage, broccoli, and onion sets. I planted the cabbage family ones as they all did fine thru snowstorms, set the tomato seedings out on the second story deck every warm day and in a cheap plastic greenhouse every cold day and brought them indoors at night when hard frost threatened for a month, transferring to bigger pots. Planted some in ground and would drape a towel or plastic as I had it over them when frost. Had a couple of snow storms, and a late hard frost that nipped at the tips and stunted the ones in the ground. But all survived w a little care. I do this every year, basically plant WAY before you are "supposed" to, pick a few varieties with very short time to maturity, plus middle and late (same idea as when planting potatoes) put some work into running the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants into sunny spots, protecting them and generally babying them (I enjoy it), and get early tomatoes as a result. The main problem I face is the squirrels who preferentially go for my heirlooms and the most flavorful beefsteaks which they take a bite or two out of then leave on the lawn. (Obviously, I salvage those and cut the bitten bit out). I've been known to pick them early in years like this one, when the squirrels are particularly bad. They are still better than the supermarket. The tomatoes, not the squirrels....Variety is the key (I forget which I've planted as i lose those tiny tags.) THo I do remember the Black Russian Krim being especially yummy this year (squirrels' favorites), and EVIL HYBRID Sweet Million Cherrie, and Mortgage Lifter, and Romas s which I've been using in things like Tabouli salads, chopped fresh on top of certain dishes, as they are less gushy. For some reason, my squash and cucumbers are WAY behind this year (planted more conventionally, when you are "supposed" to).
We have problems further up north with the wild bees disappearing: way fewer bush beans, blueberries, apples as a result. Waaah! (Don't know why, or who is using the pesticide that is killing them off, certainly not me)
My parents put tomato seedlings in a mini- greenhouse my father built- 1' -1 1/2' high and ~ 9'X3' wide, covered with a window [s]. Or whatever the dimensions were of windows. On warm days, the windows would stay off, to be put on at night.
When it was time to place them outside when frost season was done- about June 1 IIRC- the tomatoes had a head start.
For what it's worth, the only plants that have shown signs of blight or blossom end rot were bought from Home Depot. Their suppliers vary hugely in quality (I've also got spectacular heirloom plants from them at a fraction of my nicer local nursery's prices). I get HD's plants purely for speed and also because they put them out before it's prudent to plant (they cater to impatient gardeners like me). Healthwise, tho, they are not always the most reliable quality. I also find that tho starting the plants from seed myself is obviously the healthiest (no diseases brought in) it takes too long and my house is too dark and too chilly to encourage the baby plants (they get leggy). So I just do a very few of rare varieties.
I've been told that blossom-end rot can result from insufficient calcium, and it may be true that our tomatoes do better when they're close to some crushed-limestone paths. But I don't know. Our tomatoes don't usually do well; we often go straight from too-cold-to-set-fruit to too-hot-to-set-fruit in the spring. When we do get the odd tomato crop, it's done by mid-May.
I have bookmarked this discussion. Thanks to those of you mentioning specific tomato varieties requiring but a short growing season. Next year I am planting some new seeds!