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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.


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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.

Ursula.... Are you growing predatory garden plants, again? Do we have to call in the firemen with flamethrowers this time? Or is it going to be an airstrike?

Airstrikes are the proper response. Never send ground forces against venus tanktraps.

I hear copper plumbing pipe also is good for building arches and other garden supports.

Tomato cages are for sissy plants. Or for bell peppers, they work really well for them.

Thanks very much - I will make certain he gets the information.

I would not object to seeing pix of this arch, just sayin'. If you have the time and inclination. I love hearing about what you're doing with your yard.

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