Planning for Tomatoes
We may have two feet of snow on the ground, but the early tomato seedlings have germinated.
I do like to pick my first tomatoes in June, so I plant a few seedling in late January. They germinate in early February, and I keep up-potting them into bigger pots until it is time to plant them out. I will put a couple in a cold frame come April, and I may this year – space allowing – plant some in the hoophouse.
What are those super early babies? Wetsel Red Cherry. I love cherry tomatoes for salad, fresh salsa (especially mixed with other veggies or fruit like this Grilled Peach Salsa) and for drying. Dry cherry tomatoes are simply wonderful tossed in a green winter salad – a burst of sweet-acid tomato taste. Of course, it’s also easy to freeze bagfuls of fresh cherry tomatoes.
Cherry tomato start to produce earlier than the big ones, and by starting them in January, and keeping them happy (that’s the key), I will have tomato in June. My earliest is June 14, and that was prior to the hoophouse. Can I beat that?
So can’t say I am “dreaming” of tomatoes – after all I am consuming plenty in the form of soup, sauce, paste, confit etc from last summer canning. But I am certainly planning my tomato crop. This year I am getting more of the non-red tomatoes, and I am planting more of the canning tomatoes too. That is, those tomatoes that were bred for little pulp so that they would not give off too much liquid. They are also called paste tomatoes, processing tomatoes or sometime Italian tomatoes.
Last year I had three different paste cultivars: Amish Paste (at noon in the picture – new to me then), Roma (at 4:00) & San Marzano Sel el Redorte (at 8:00). Amish Paste is very meaty and some were longer than my hand (it was a dry summer and I don’t water that much so the specimens below were not that large). Great for sauce and paste. Roma, which I decided to try again – was fine for crushed tomatoes. San Marzano was good also for sauce and paste, to can whole and to make tomato confit – and Tomato Tatin.
Those, as well as the slicing tomatoes and more cherry, I will be starting from late February through mid-March. Trying to time the determinate paste tomato harvest for September, you know… so the ambient temperature is a little more conducive to canning.
What are your tomato plans this year? Any you can’t do without? and why?
PS: the first pepper seedlings have been emerging over the last few days. Hot pepperts up first, followed by Round of Hungary. Still waiting for the bell and Italian…