I haven’t actually harvested anything from the garden in a few weeks now (we had frost and snow and I’m just ignoring it all until next weekend when I will hopefully get a chance to do some winterizing). But, I want to finish up this series for our 2014 garden!
The tomatoes were an underdog with a sad ending (mostly). When I planted them from seed inside the house I didn’t think they would survive, but when I got them into the ground outside they started to flourish almost right away. I chose to grow a determinate type of tomato. What that means is that they don’t keep growing and climbing — they stop at a certain point, so they don’t need as much support. Being a total newb gardener I didn’t realize that I should have staked them in some fashion, which led to their downfall.
When we left for our summer vacation the tomatoes were doing so well. Matt referred to that part of the garden as my tomato jungle because they were really going nuts. When we came home they had gone flat. I don’t know if they got too much water or not enough, or the weight of the tomatoes finally snapped the plants, but they all started to rot on the vine, and the actual plants started to rot, too. About a month ago I went up and grabbed most of the green tomatoes that looked like they would be able to ripen indoors.
There’s a surprising amount of controversy over ripening tomatoes inside! I guess it’s actually not ripening, it’s reddening. I ignored all the crazy tips for doing so, and just left them in a box on the counter — all but a few of them reddened just fine. And while they were softer than what a normal ripe tomato would be, they were still better than the tomatoes from the grocery store. I didn’t get a huge yield, thanks to all of the rot, but we did enjoy them for a few weeks!
Matt isn’t a tomato fan, so I did most of the eating. The first few slices I had on a sandwich — just tomatoes, mayo, butter, salt, pepper and bread. Yum. I made a tiny batch of roasted tomato and cream pasta sauce. A few chunks made it into salad, my father-in-law had some in soup and just cut up as a side dish with dinner, and M and I ate a few caprese salads with basil from the yard (SO GOOD). The best thing I did with them, though, was make homemade ketchup, I followed Mark Bittman’s recipe and it was a success!
Next year I think I will grow indeterminate tomatoes and take the time to stake them properly. But I would prefer to grow a larger portion of paste tomatoes for processing if there’s only two of us who will eat them raw regularly, and I think Romas are determinates so I’ll have to do a few bush plants. I’d also like to grow some smaller tomatoes, either grapes or cherries.
I was pretty sad to see all of that fruit rot, but I learned a lesson about planning things out better, and I think next year will be a good tomato year!