Tuesday, July 05, 2011

this week in the garden: tomatoes

My dad & me in my family's garden, circa 1991-ish.

For this week's garden tour, I decided to divide my post in half and focus one part entirely on tomatoes. Since that first picture was taken, and even before, I have had a love for tomatoes. I remember going in the backyard with my parents and eating cherry tomatoes right off the vine. Lovely!

For me, my spring/summer garden would not be complete without tomato plants. This year Corey and I have ten of them in one of our square foot gardens! There is one brandywine, two yellow pear, one white cherry, one red delicious, one pineapple, one Cherokee purple, one German striped, one I am forgetting momentarily, and one unknown variety (I like a good mystery--and it was given to us, unlabeled, by Corey's boss).

I love going out in the backyard and looking for new tiny, green tomatoes! There are so many flowers. I watch them each day, trying to calculate when a tomato will appear. I love finding tomatoes growing in little corners I had not noticed before. Having ten plants in such a small space requires a lot of pruning, and even then, I refer to it as the "tomato forest"! I think next year we will try more determinate varieties, since they stay a little smaller.

I find them so beautiful, and I love the aroma of tomato leaves, even if they are poisonous to eat.

To celebrate my Southern roots, I think a good tomato sandwich will be in order once these tomatoes ripen. Everyone here seems to think that tomato sandwiches sound awful, but I think they taste heavenly. My grandmother and mother always make them on warm biscuits, with mayonnaise, a pinch of salt, and several thin slices of fresh tomato. I think I'll try them with the biscuit recipe from the Chicago Diner vegetarian cookbook (my new favorite biscuit), and some vegenaise.

I also love making homemade salsa and other tomato sauces, and cooking them up in a spicy chana masala, as well as all of those other delicious things which require tomatoes. That's not to mention that they are amazing raw on salads and sandwiches and in pasta salad and just by themselves! I can't wait for these tomatoes to ripen. In the meantime, share with me your favorite tomato recipes, please?

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