As I mentioned earlier in Strange Gardening, this has been a very unusual year in the vegetable garden. Some varieties ripened as expected and lasted their usual length of time (green beans, squash), others bolted very early (spinach), and still others lasted much longer than usual (sugar snap peas).
And then there are the tomatoes. I love a good garden tomato, and every year I start seeds of my favorite varieties. I usually transplant them into the garden in late April or early May, once I’ve warmed the soil with my wall o’waters. Wall o’Waters (or Kozy Coats, the Canadian version) are curious looking devices (BA likens them to nuclear power plant cooling towers); rings of water filled tubes, which both warm the soil and keep the plants warmer at night, important at our mile high elevation. Cool nights are great for sleeping, but not for tomatoes.
This season was a little different. I started my seeds a bit late, and with predicted storms and leaving town, I didn’t get them transplanted until after our return from Yellowstone and the two feet of snow that had fallen in our absence was melted. Once planted in early June, the plants have grown well, but they have been slow to set fruit and ripen.
I picked my first cherry and yellow pear tomatoes on August 31. In a really good year, I’m picking the little guys by 4th of July, and sometime in mid July in an average year. So this year is about 6 weeks behind schedule, which is a very long time in the garden world.
I was relieved when I read this week’s garden column in my local paper, where the master gardener explained the issue. Too cold and wet early on (those late May snows) and then it got too hot to set fruit. http://www.dailycamera.com/lifestyles/ci_31259621/omeara-tomato-taste-off-way-sample-love-apples . It appears I am not the only gardener in this area who has been waiting for tomatoes.
I’m happy to be eating the small tomatoes, and now my favorite larger varieties (Black Krim and Brandywine) are starting to color up. Every year, we celebrate these tomatoes with our “annual BLT” sandwich. This may be the first season that I’ve had my annual BLT for my mid-September birthday meal.