Thursday, December 9, 2010

the year of the tomato

When we bought our house, I knew I wanted to paint the walls, redo the counter top and eventually finish the basement. But more than anything, I wanted a tomato garden. Years of apartment living had made it hard to have more than a small container garden, and now I wanted the real deal. Raised beds, good earth, and lots and lots of tomatoes.

Last spring, we set to work building the raised beds out of lumber we recycled that was left behind in our backyard by the previous owners. We set up two fair sized beds in the front yard. One was designated for only tomatoes and one was to be for veggies.

We grew mostly our own seedlings from seeds I saved from expensive Whole Foods heirloom tomatoes. They were seriously selling their tomatoes for $6.99/lb, making it easy to see why my brother in law calls Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck". I bought one of each delicious tomato and saved the seeds from each one, making up names as I went.

Magically, they all grew, and we ended up with a tomato patch full of perfect, hardy heirloom plants. Under each plant I planted a hunk of fish to give the plants a boost and to make them self fertilizing. The plants grew and grew and grew, and the tomato bed was my favorite place to be in the summer. Standing in the chin high plants, searching for sucker shoots and aphids, with the smell of warm tomato plants was a zen like place for me. I felt miles away from everything and like a farmer in my own right.

But then, the unimaginable happened. We grew so many tomatoes that (and I'm almost ashamed to admit it) I got sick of tomatoes. We had tomatoes on everything, in every way, shape and form. Tomato this and tomato that, on salads, with breakfast, in sandwiches and cherry tomatoes for dessert. Truly, this was a case of too much of a good thing.

It literally got to the point where I couldn't give them away. They were now at risk of rotting right then and there. So, I set to saving the seeds. Now, the over-tomatoed feeling out of my system, I am craving tomatoes again. Not the faded, hard, grocery store tomatoes that are available this time of year, but the rich, juicy, sun ripened garden ones. My only comfort is my packs of saved seeds, waiting for spring.

It is now December. I am planning on planting indoors on March 1st of 2011. It seems my garden season just ended and now I'm only a mere 3ish months from starting the cycle again. This year, the tomato garden is expanding and we've added one whole bed just for garlic. The backyard will now be home to an in ground veggie plot.

Will I get sick of tomatoes again this year? Probably, but I'll have fun finding out!


  1. Next up will be heaps and heaps of tomato recipes. It's amazing how even frozen sauces made with garden fresh tomatoes have that good old summery taste in the middle of winter. I wish I was a neighbour...I'd have taken more than a few off your hands!

  2. Absolutely! Freeze them for the winter so they'll last until the next harvest: pasta sauce, salsa, tomato base for soups, chopped tomatoes for chili.

    Garlic will be a crop you never get sick of. I plant on/about October 15 and harvest on/about July 15 and then store and use for the entire year! Get good organic bulbs then plant enough for your use for a year plus enough cloves to plant again. You'll LOVE growing garlic!

    One more probably should rotate crops in the beds so the soil regenerates.

    Gardening season isn't far away...especially out there!

  3. I would kill for that problem. Did you make tons of sauce to freeze or can? Maybe next year you can ship me some.
    I am so happy to see you on the blogosphere! I am going to post your blog on mine.
    Much love,