Sunday, May 25, 2008

Tomato Time!

I was worried about not getting my heat loving plants in the ground the week of Mother's Day, and then it was too hot to plant. My tomatoes, squash and peppers would have been hard pressed to know if summer was coming or going the past two weeks, culminating in yesterday's rain showers. However, the soil temp is holding steady in the 80's, a great temperature for planting corn, beans, and other items from seed, and is also sufficiently warm for everything else to go in the ground.

So I've been trying to plant something everyday over the last week. Asters, eggplants, bush beans, and today, finally the tomatoes. A friend of mine grows a combination of new (to us) varieties mixed with old faves. Here's the rollcall for this year: Azoycha, Glacier, Siletz, Black Prince, Aunt Ruby's German, Mortgage Lifter, San Marzano Redorta, Sun Gold, and Pink Ping Pong. Most of these, new to us or not, are heirloom varieties, and represent a range of colors, sizes, purposes and maturation times.

Unless you shop farmer's markets or drool over seed catalogs you are probably unfamiliar with these varieties, as they are not grown in conventional, corporate fields. Most of the tastiest varieties do not hold up well during conventional harvesting, packing and transportation processes, and are therefore never known to supermarket shelves. What you get instead are those sawdust grocery store, second rate imitations pretending to be tomatoes.

San Marzano Redorta is an amazing paste tomato which will become canned and frozen sauce. Black Prince, Mortgage Lifter, Glacier and Siletz will probably be dried or canned in addition to fresh eating. Sun Gold and Pink Ping Pong will be lucky to make it into the house as they are some of my favorite fresh eating tomatoes.

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