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You say tomato and…

September 11, 2018

I say don’t talk to me about tomatoes.

That said, let me talk to you about tomatoes. I love many things made from tomatoes. I love tomato juice and tomato sauce. What I’m not very keen on is eating regular tomatoes (e.g. beefsteak). There’s something about all that pulpy gooey seed stuff that just puts me off. I have never liked a slice of tomato in a sandwich or burger and always remove said slice if one arrives unexpectedly.

What I do love is cherry tomatoes. Pop in your mouth wonderful sweetness. Mike was the same. We always used to have a couple of cherry tomato plants growing beside our house in Vancouver. In those days we weren’t on Gabriola for enough of the summer to get a garden going, although one year we did plant some in our neighbour Pat’s garden. (Unfortunately, one night, when the tomatoes were almost ready to pick, every single plant was wiped out by tomato blight.)

After I came back from London and we were living here full time, I decided, as followers of this blog will know, to start growing things to eat.

Whatever disappointments gardening might have in store for me each summer, I knew I could rely on the cherry tomatoes. As my horticulturist cousin once pointed out, tomatoes will grow anywhere. While Mike was alive and since his death, I always had great crops of cherry tomatoes. One year I had so many I had to give bags of them away, as I couldn’t possibly eat them all. (And I can eat a lot of cherry tomatoes.)

Every May, when the farmer’s market started up, I would go there and buy half a dozen cherry tomato plants from a woman who lived on the island. Every year these plants provided bounty.

Then what turned out to be disaster struck. Three years ago Linda (for that was the tomato lady’s name) informed me that this would be her last year selling at the market, that she was moving to Nanaimo. Oh, no!

07-07 cherry tomatoes

This isn’t even the best year, but it was the last of Linda’s tomatoes.

Every summer after that my crop (if such it can be called) of cherry tomatoes has been a huge disappointment. I could go to the garden and take a photo of the six spindly specimens in the pots this year, but frankly it would be too depressing. There are probably half a dozen green tomatoes still on the plants and I think I’ve had about ten ripe tomatoes since the beginning of August. Sigh.

I’m not saying Linda’s tomato plants were magical (although, truth be told, I’m beginning to think they might have been). All I’m saying is that since her departure I’ve tried numerous different types of cherry tomatoes and all have broken my heart.

Perhaps somewhat more important than the potential magical properties of Linda’s tomatoes has been the weather.

The first several summers after I started my constantly frustrating garden project were long, hot and dry. Alarmingly long, hot and dry. One year, when there wasn’t a drop of rain from late April until mid-September, my well actually ran dry. (Fortunately I also have a cistern.)

Three summers ago normal weather service resumed on Gabriola. What we’d previously thought of us normal summer weather (and feared we’d never see again) is often pleasant weather in April, always good weather in May, followed by the wet, cold month of Juneuary, then sun again in July and August.

The disappearance of Linda’s tomato plants did coincide with the return of Juneuary and I suspect that could be the crux of the matter. Still, the fact remains I haven’t had a decent crop of cherry tomatoes for the past three summers.

So, don’t talk to me about tomatoes.

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4 Comments
  1. Ours are worse.

  2. krysross permalink

    Well, weather here is obviously different but I have a bumper crop of tomatoes. I don’t buy plants or seed but collect seeds from tomatoes I’ve bought over the winter. I wrap the seeds in paper towel that I’ve labelled “cherry, campari, grape, etc.” and keep them in the fridge. Start them indoors in February. This year, a self-seeded plant showed up in a jade plant. I transplanted it into the garden with other seedings and it’s outperforming everything. A beefsteak.

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