Monday, November 2, 2015

Growing tomatoes, 2015, Part I

The harvest is in.  I lost count of how many tomatoes my plants produced, but for about three months I ate tomatoes everyday and shared them several times a week with friends whom I share meals with.

All of my plants were (and still are) container grown so that I could tend them in my power wheel chair.

Gardening has always been an empowering activity to me, connecting me to the earth and to my ancestors, many of whom were farmers.  This summer I found it amazing to pick my dinner, plan my dinner around what I had in the garden and eat simply and humbly.

It was even more empowering to me because I started out with two big drawbacks.  First, I am a power wheelchair user and I like to say that I live my life on wheels.  Second, the drought in California made gardening difficult.  I had been putting off my garden for several years because of the drought and this year I decided that if it was going to happen while I could still do it, it had to be now.

The plants did not take as much water as I thought they would, bringing my water bill up only a few dollars.  This was good.  A soil mix that held conditioners that hold water helped a great deal. A separate blog post will cover this.

Here are the varieties that grew in my garden this year.

Anais Noir, a beautiful heirloom that is so delicious! This tomato started it all for me when a friend gifted me with a perfect tomato from her garden in Santa Barbara at Christmas.

Sandul Moldavon, another heirloom that ripens to a rich, tomato red.  it tasted like the tomatoes of my Midwestern childhood and nearly brought tears to my eyes.

Sweet Solano, a yellow tomato, slightly more acidic than its larger, red cousins, but delicious none the less.  A bonus is that in spite of its small size, it produces lots of seeds for saving for next year.  Great tomato for salads or for lunch or for a quick snack.  A bit large to pop in your mouth right of the bush.

Purple Cherokee, was finicky in my garden.  It seemed like it thought it must go to seed right away and worked on producing one tomato that was ginormous.  Didn't weigh it after picking it so that it would stop hogging all of the plant's energy, but should have. It ripened in a paper bag, spilled forth an abundance of seed when I cut it and was absolutely delicious.  I dried part of it so that it will come out of the freezer in the winter to brighten a winter meal.

Black Vernissage, a purple tomato, bigger than a cherry, smaller than a small tomato.  Absolutely delicious flavor and lots of seeds.  Did have a problem with browning leaves (verticulum wilt?) and the plant died before the others.  To be fair this plant was in too much shade.  More sun next time!  See the plate above the small purple tomatoes are these. Yum!

Sungold, a highly regarded yellow cherry tomato did not do as well for me as I had hoped that it would, but to be fair it got a late start, could have used a bigger container and more sun.  Next time! Don't think I have any pictures.

Riebenstraube is a beautiful grape tomato.  I love it.  Planted late, the plants took off and are still healthy and strong.  Lots and lots of flowers, lots of clusters and now the weather is getting a bit too cold.  Picked them today will see if they ripen in a paper bag.

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