Friday, June 12, 2009

Tomato Season Winds Down

It is painfully obvious that our tomato growing season 'round here is ending. Temperatures in the mid-upper 90s by day and nighttime lows close to 80 mean the end of any further production. Those fruits that remain on the vine are struggling to break the 5 oz barrier while under assault from dry conditions, blazing temps and the Unholy Stink Bug Army.

I am disappointed somewhat by this year's results. I had out twenty-two transplants, plus two volunteers, and I was expecting to have enough left over to do some serious canning, even after generous giveaways to relatives and sundry. I think it just got too hot too quickly for good production. Perhaps I should've started my seeds a bit earlier so that they could've had a longer fruit-setting window. The plants themselves look good --I've got two that are 8' tall and still growing. But I estimate that I'm about one-third to one-half below what I ought to have picked. I've barely enough to make a few more jars of sauce.

I'm already thinking of the fall crop and if I can get away with putting out plants in mid-late July. Every plant that comes out now is replaced by an okra seedling, so I've got to keep at least a little room at some point. i won't be able to plant my longer varieties that did so well for this past spring, like Cherokee Purple and Black Krim; looks like I'll be putting out shorter ones like Early Girl.

Rough Recipe: Mojo's 'Mater Sauce

Juice about a dozen or so tomatoes using a citrus juicer (eliminates having to skin them by hand; seed removal prior to juicing optional); reserve some of the juice and drink the rest. Throw pulp into stew pot, add some decent red wine to increase volume by 33% or so, then add sliced onions, garlic, red pepper, black pepper, oregano, salt and sugar to taste. Simmer slowly but copiously, adding tomato juice if volume gets too low. Ready to eat in two hours, sooner if you like a more raw sauce.

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