Dreaming in shades of Tomato

The many colors of tomatoes from The Toy Box. Each of these was harvested in early September when they were bright green.

Since I am from the Pacific North West, I should tell you that the color of tomatos is usually some sort of shinny green. Like most gardeners, I am in denial of my obsession with tomatoes. My family will testify that I plant too many and harvest too few. I am on a quest, I need to do scientific research, I MUST plant many tomatoes until I find the few that excel in my micro climate.

Gardening in Western Washington is a tease for tomato growers. When the weather is nice it seems like we ought to be able to harvest a few red globes. Occasionally we have summers that cause memory loss about our wet cold May, June and Julys that normally keep me in a sweater. Is it just me or were our last two early summers exceptionally cold and wet?

It was during the chilly gardening season of 2010 that I discovered the Siltz Tomato. Siltz is not some tasteless little globe like Oregon Spring or Early Girl. Calm down, I am talking about results from my own garden, your mileage may vary. Siltz is not just one step up from a cherry tomato as so many other early “slicers” seem to be. She was bright red with full tomato flavor and averaged 4 to 6 ounces. One other 2010 discovery was Persimmon, a light orange, persimmon colored tomato. Persimmon is not a heavy producer. It was nearly October before I could taste the fruit from plants started in February but the tomato or two I did harvest were hands down the best I have eaten since learning to love tomatoes from my grandmothers suburban farm in Oak Harbor, Washington.

In 2011 Siltz, Persimmon and a small plum that I have grown for 3 years now, Black Plum Paste, were set into the Toy Box with the other tomatoes I trialed. 2011 was the year I tried every early slicer I could afford from Territorial Seed Company.  All of the new tomatoes were colossal failures. I also tried a large variety of cherry tomatoes. Gold Nugget was the clear winner and will receive an honored place in my garden for years to come.

Honestly, the most important discovery of 2011? Every tomato (except maybe Siltz) needs heat to ripen. The little Black Plum Paste that brags of ripe fruit in 68 days did not have significant ripe fruit any earlier than the Manitoba or Persimmon (80 days) even though the aggressive vine was covered with clusters of green fruit. Cleaning out the garden in mid September brought me to my 2nd happy discovery. The 2011 tomato garden was full of big green tomatoes and large clusters of small tomatoes. My youngest was asking for Fried Green Tomatoes, so I brought them all in to cook up……and then forgot about them. The early green tomatoes rotted in their boxes. The late tomatoes ripened in fragrant shades of pink, red and yellows.

For 2012 I have decided to trial regular full season tomatoes to harvest green in September. The best soup and sauce of the year came from green tomatoes that ripened on the sideboard in my kitchen.


Filed under I'm just saying..., Urban Farm

5 responses to “Dreaming in shades of Tomato

  1. Love this post, Debs! How did you do with the Silvery Fir? I remember it got off to a rough start. I was so disappointed when you disappeared in August for so long. We need updates, girl!

  2. Silvery Fir has earned a 2nd try. She recovered from her near drowning and produced some big tomatoes (maybe big is the wrong word, larger than big cherry tomatoes, smaller that Oregon Spring….maybe 3+ ounces?) Slugs were able to get to fruit that hung on a plant that seems to have been developed for hanging baskets. Poor little thing.

    August and September are tough for me. My husband has his big vacation in August. School starts in September for students but in late August for me. I can usually come up for air (and make time to post) in October. You are sweet to mention this.

  3. Pingback: 2012 Tomatoes. | Music of Rain

  4. I will try a Siltz this year – at first I thought it was actually a Siletz, is it? I have raised Gold Nugget for years now, and sell plants at farmer’s market here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. For good flavor, try a Cherokee Purple or a Better Boy tomato; I’ve also had good results with the Homestead, which is a Heirloom variety. I also raise the Jubilee, a yellow tomato that has a mild, non-acid flavor.

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