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Bumper Crop

Don’t let anybody tell you that heirloom tomatoes just don’t produce very well.


Mostly Pink Brandywine, couple of Cherokee Purples in there too.

This is just the last couple days worth, off three plants. We’ve gone through a couple of bowls full doing tomato sandwiches, bruschetta, chopping them over spaghetti, Kevin’s putting them in his salads…now they’re starting to pile up a bit as we run out of the usual methods. Kevin swears he’ll make salsa or sauce or something tomorrow.

There’s still probably a bowl worth ripe on the plants, I just haven’t gone out to bring them in yet. (When I get really ambitious, I have one potted tomato that has run its course and needs to be sent to the compost heap and replaced with petunias or something. Given the heat recently, I am not all that ambitious.)

It’s been a heckuva year for tomatoes—one of the Brandywines, trained over an arch, is really quite a glorious thing, and I’m probably going to do that every year now—and even the notoriously finicky Cherokee Purple is producing a bumper crop.

Incidentally, they are all upside-down in the bowl because America’s Test Kitchen determined in multiple trials that a tomato stored upside down—or with tape over the stem hole!—lasts two or three days longer than stored upright. Turns out that the air and the bacteria and whatnot that lead it to rot get in primarily through the hole left by the stem, so by placing them stem-side down, you get a couple of extra days on your tomato. How awesome is that?

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


Last year a friend told me that she just dices her tomatoes raw, puts them in freezer bags and throws them in the freezer. Sometimes with a little basil or olive oil, sometimes not. They freeze fine and you can just toss them into whatever you're cooking later in the year that needs diced tomatoes.\

I tried it last year, when I had a good crop, and it worked beautifully. I'm down to my last couple of bags though and this year's crop is not so good :(

Yeah, just dice 'em and freeze, or cook down a giant pot of sauce, then divvy it up into freezer bags, two cups or so in each. I tend to double-bag them because I shove things around in my freezer.

But, Kevin is Lutheran, surely he can swap them for a ton of zucchini at church.

Finally, see if any soup kitchens are accepting donations. They may be overwhelmed with tomatoes by now, though.

What beauties, and ohboysalsa. Bless America's Test Kitchen, they know everything, don't they?

If I didn't have a black thumb, tomatoes are what I would grow!

Honestly, tomatoes aren't that hard to grow, providing you've got enough sun (silly things are sun-worshipers) and I say this as someone who kills off anything not ivy, cactus or succulents.

Apparently, I do well with things that like to get ignored. :/ Although, cactus means I don't have worry about my cats eating my houseplants!

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I've always had huge crops from heirloom tomatoes. But this year the ones that didn't get destroyed by wind just aren't ripeing. I foresee a whole bunch of fried green tomatoes, green tomato pie, and chutney in my future.

Could one grow tomatos on an NYC balcony? Tomatos are something I'm willing to eat like apples, and if I could grow them myself that'd be great.

As long as you get enough sun on your balcony, you should be able to grow them. BUT-you're a bit late, if you want them this year; it's at minimum 60 days from transplant to harvest.

You can either get a fairly small pot (3 gallon size or so) and use a patio tomato (which from what I've seen, are usually cherry or grape toms, not full size fruit, but that may have just been the plants I saw), or you can get a larger pot and grow regular varieties. Make sure to get a trellis/cage of some sort. You'll need to fertilize regularly, even if you use something like Miracle Grow potting soil; mine went through that in under a month, and I didn't know enough to keep fertilizing.

I used rubbermaid tubs for my plants; drilled holes in the bottom, put in a layer of river rock, then a layer of ground cloth to stop the potting soil from clogging up the drainage, then filled it with soil. It worked pretty well. I have friends who use 33 gallon rubber trash cans for their planting beds, but that's a bit big for a balcony!

On the other hand, if you have a sunny window/sliding door on the balcony, you can bring the plant indoors when it gets cold.

*runs to put her tomatoes upside-down*

Me, too! Sadly, I lost the huge one I was going to put in ratatouille tonight.

Funny they should find that. That was how we were taught to display tomatoes for 4-H, but I never could figure out why!

Send them to meeeeee....! ^o^ They look so yummy! I would LOVE a whole tomato salad right now... my grandma used to slice them like an inch thick (horizontally), put them on a plate, drizzle them with ranch dressing, and a sprinkle of black pepper... BEST summer salad EVER!

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Yum! That looks like a delicious problem to me!

I wouldn't recommend heirloom tomatoes for sauce, honestly. They're too watery and cook down to almost nothing. Also, it takes so long to cook them down that the sauce ends up tasting off.

I do highly recommend slicing tomatoes and cucumbers and piling them liberally on a bagel with cream cheese and some salt. Also, Caprese salad (basil, tomato, fresh mozerella and olive oil. It's also good as a sandwich).

Tomatoes don't do very well in most of the Bay, it's too cool. Some folks manage alright, but my yard gets so little sun that it's just a lost cause.

My husband would be very interested in any pictures (or advice) you have on training the Brandywine over an arch - I think you've inspired him to rearrange his garden ideas for next year. Or maybe even this fall, considering how warm the weather's been!

Honestly, there was nothing to it---plant next to sturdy metal arbor/arch. When tomato stems start to shoot up, tie them to the archway with plastic-coated twist-ties. Cut off some of the side branches (for once, you don't want a bushy tomato, you want it all to go UP instead of out) and every few days, as needed, tie the tallest stems farther up the arch. Some of the sideshoots can also be tied to the arbor as needed, or pruned back if they're trying to eat the pathway.

Once mine got to the top, they shot up past the arch, then the stems got too long and unsupported and kinda slumped, so I just got a stool and tied them back to the top again. You need a big, sturdy metal thing---you can either buy one of the good metal scroll arbors at a big box store or build one out of rebar---but seriously, it's completely painless, and since it's all flattened against the arbor, it makes picking really easy, compared to the massive thicket that the other tomatoes have created, which tore down two tomato cages and now just kinda wanders over that section of the garden in search of prey.

I lost every heirloom to early blight this year, and have replanted with Solar Fire, Heatmaster, and Pink Girl. Only the cast-iron Juliet cherry tomato survived. But we've had a brutal season in Hotlanta.

Great tip regarding the tomato storage.

I planted 3 heirlooms and one cherry tomato. i grew them all from seed so I know it was a cherry tomato, however instead of producing tomatoes the size of cherries, it is producing tomatoes the size of apricots. I've gotten 25 off that plant just this week. My "Ack! too many tomatoes" recipe for lunch is as follows, and works best with Roma/apricot sized tomatoes

Slice tomatoes in half and scoop out seeds. Place open face up on a baking sheet. Fill tomato halves with olives and feta cheese. Broil high for 10 minutes. Try to let them cool before you inhale them so you don't burn your mouth.

Tomato tarts, caprese salad, stuffed tomatoes (hot or cold) and gazpacho.
Your cooking ability is up to caprese and cold stuff tomatoes, it might even be up for gazpacho. All that calls for is a blender and some pre chopping.

[delurking]You can always make chili-spiced tomato jam.