Heirloom Tomatoes: My Garden Darlings

If you’ve been following along, you know that I didn’t plant a single tomato plant this year.  Hard to believe, eh?

Self-seeded or Volunteer Tomatoes

Self-seeded or Volunteer Tomatoes

Last year my friend Doug gave me several varieties of Baker Creek Heirloom tomato seeds. I planted them in my City Picker but they were slow to grow. I hedged my bets with an organic nursery plant and finished off the summer with tomatoes to spare.

This year the heirloom tomatoes self-seeded one box over. Further, a variety of tiny cherry tomatoes flourished out of the bottom of the rotating compost bin.  Two additional plants showed up in the gravel walkway, a larger cherry tomato and another heirloom. What a bounty!

April 9, 2014

April 9, 2014

Tiny Cherry Tomatoes

mini cherry tomatoes

Mini cherry tomatoes

Since a speck of a tomato seed managed to sprout through a crack in the rotating composter, I felt compelled to let it grow. I staked the plant when it showed signs of surviving the season, and eventually it produced small, bright red fruit, just like you see in the grocery store. Of course the problem with most tomatoes from the store isn’t the appearance but the taste. These tiny tomatoes are flavorless. What a disappointment.

Cherry Tomatoes: The Sequel

cherry tomatoes

More cherry tomatoes

At the back of the garden, leaning up against the house, is another volunteer. This one produced larger cherry tomatoes, also a brilliant red. They’re a bit sweeter than the tiny cherry, but again bred for appearance and not flavor.

Baker Heirloom Tomatoes

heirloom tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomato gold! These are the sweetest, juiciest and most prolific tomatoes in the garden.  Honestly, there is no turning back once you’ve tasted them. What luck to have an entire crop of these delicious fruits.  I sliced open several today for seed saving, but plan to do all my vegetable seed purchasing from them in the future. In case you’re interested, check out Rare Seeds Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.   

From there About page:

The family works extensively to supply free seeds to many of the world’s poorest countries, as well as here at home in school gardens and other educational projects. It is their goal to educate everyone about a better, safer food supply and fight gene-altered, Frankenfood and the companies that support it.

You can also follow them on Facebook.

What to do with all those tomatoes:

vegan kabobs

Vegan kabobs for the 4th of July

Made with tomatoes, onions, red peppers and vegan Field Roast ‘sausages‘.

heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil

Fresh basil and tomatoes.

Eat them straight from the bowl.

frozen tomatoes

Freeze them, then turn them into salsa

Sarah the Gardener taught me that not only can you freeze tomatoes, but that the skin falls off of them when they’re thawed. Mike made several batches of tasty salsa. Here’s a similar recipe.

And of course share with anyone who’s interested.

How do you like your tomatoes?

tomato mozzarella basil salad

Tomato, basil mozzarella salad

30 thoughts on “Heirloom Tomatoes: My Garden Darlings

  1. I used to buy those tomatoes from my local Farmers Market and they are truly the most tasty ever! I’m sorry so many of your volunteers are not so tasty – but at least now you know volunteers can grow and fruit and if you only have heirlooms in the garden in future years you will surely reap a most amazing bounty! Isn’t it fun finding out how it all works! 🙂

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    • It is fun! Lots and lots of fun. I enjoy it so much, Pauline and learn every single day.

      What’s interesting to me is that so many tomato varieties grew in that area, when plenty of other things hit the compost. I did get one onion, but the raspberries took over and I kind of forgot it was there.

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  2. I must post about my tomatoes soon; so much to do and so little time! You asked if I was vegetarian – I’m not but I eat a lot of meals without meat or fish, maybe four days of the week I’m vegetarian and 3 not. Especially in summer when there is so much wonderful veg in the garden just needing to be used.

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  3. That looks really good and delicious. I like to simple bake my tomatoes in the oven: cut in chunky bits with a few cut up onions and some cloves of garlic, green herbs, S&P, drizzle with olive oil. After about 40 minutes they are done. I puree the lot and add balsamic vinegar and honey to taste. And excellent base for soups & sauces! Have a great weekend! Johanna

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  4. Holy tomato palooza, you are buried in the little rascals. Imagine, just inviting yourself to the garden party, LOL. That’s really something. I wonder if they will self procure again for next season? You almost don’t need to plant seeds.
    Of course, as you know, I love my tomatoes with cheese and basil too. I like them in sandwiches and raw on top of veggie pizza or even in a garden salad. I’m not a big salza eater but sometimes at pot lucks people bring that ‘7 layer dip’…I love that. Have you had it? I think it’s guacamole, refried bean, cream cheese mixed with taco season, shredded orange cheese, diced onion, diced tomatoe’s…..mmmmm one other thing eludes me. Not low cal but you only put a little on a crackle and plan to have only a couple or three. Orrrrr throw caution to the wind and be better tomorrow, LOL.

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    • A couple or three or….that’s my number one problem: if it’s delicious, I exercise no self control.

      I have had it, but I don’t like sour cream so I usually give it a pass. Funny, that. I like all the other ingredients. I can’t think of number seven either. Let me go check…black olives! Yum

      I was thinking the same thing on the seeds and plan to bury a few tomatoes at the end of the season to see what comes up. I’ll save seeds as well for back up.

      Do you think Victoria will run out of food while we’re there??? 😉

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      • LOL, we’d just have to fly to Paris for late night croissants if that happened. We’d really have no other option. 😉
        Oh 😛 yucky, black olives…..blech to the max ! You don’t like sour cream??? What do you put on perigees? LOL.

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  5. Hi Alys. I have a vague recollection of what it is like to have too many tomatoes. But it won’t long before I sow more seeds. In the meantime we are able to enjoy the lovely ones in the freezer in soups and stews.
    I am always amazed how differently they can all taste. Enjoy your harvest. Cheers Sarah : o )

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    • Sarah, I really enjoy following your blog for a variety of reasons (your sense of humour and your great writing are at the top), but I also enjoy the fact that we have opposite seasons. I find it so interesting.

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  6. What lovely tomatoes, Alys! Your tomato inspired dishes look delicious. I order most of my seed from three companies: Baker Creek, The Territorial Seed Company, and, my favorite, Seed Savers Exchange. They all have excellent selections of heirloom varieties. And so many tomatoes to choose from.

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    • Thank you so much, for your kind words and for the additional resources. It’s great following other gardeners in our blogging world. I’m always learning new things. It would be fun to grow a variety next year.

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  7. Isn’t it a shame that the cheery tomatoes are so beautiful yet not tasty. Love the photo!
    I’m sure you know how I like tomatoes 🙂 I’m going to have to try colorpencil2014’s recipe as a stand alone! Yum

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    • It is a shame. 70 years of trying to breed the perfect tomato, and farmers inadvertently sacrificed flavor. Check this out:

      Most supermarket tomatoes are flavorless at best, and a single gene mutation goes a long way toward explaining why.

      The mutation arose as breeders cultivated tomatoes to ripen evenly, a trait that makes harvesting cheaper and more efficient. As pretty as they look, though, mutated tomato fruits are less efficient at photosynthesizing, found a new study. As a result, they make less sugar and other compounds, which means they often taste far worse than tomatoes that may look blotchy but are full of explode-in-your-mouth sweetness.

      For consumers who like their Caprese salads rich and complex, the results suggest that, for now, heirloom varieties at co-ops and farmer’s markets may be your best bet. Eventually, the findings could help breeders put more satisfying flavor profiles back into everyday grocery store tomatoes.

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  8. Great post on too many tomatoes and their lack of flavor. I have noticed that over the years, I bought fewer and fewer. They held no appeal. Now I know why. I’ve been warned (yesterday) not to plant vegetables in the terrace beds because of the creosote on the logs holding up the terrace. So on to plan B. A friend is holding a tomato plant for me until I can plant it. Doubt I’ll see any produce from it this year. Sounds like Heirloom is the only way to go.

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    • Marlene, in my book it is. I wish you could taste one of my tomatoes. Why don’t I save you some seeds and you can give it a go next season. Too bad about the creosote in the planting beds, but good to find out now and not later. I have limited space for vegetables since the back garden has a lot of shade from neighboring trees. We bought two, inexpensive raised bed kits at Lowe’s for about $100 each. They’re still in great shape five or six years later. They’re easy to put together and made from a synthetic so the leaching is not a problem. Also better (here) for discouraging termites, dry rot and the like.

      I’ll see if they still have something like that and I’ll send you a link. Another idea is to plant an EarthBox. $39 for the kit (box, dolomite, fertilizer and mulch) Just add a bag of potting mix and you’re in business.

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      • Thanks so much for the info Alys. I’m looking at my least expensive options right now. I need to research more on the creosote but there is room to put lower planter boxes and leave the top terraces for ornamental flowers and shrubs. We took our green waste to the recycling place yesterday and found top soil and mulch for sale. :)))) I think to replace the creosote ties, it would be quite expensive. Painted my last floor today. Just need carpet now then on to the outside. I will never run out of things to do. :))

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        • Hurray for painting your last floor. You’ve already done a lot: new flooring, paint, a remodeled laundry room. Wow that ‘s a lot. Will you have a few more months of warm weather? San Jose stays warm till mid to late October, and usually mild into November. My fingers are triple crossed for that El Nino their predicting. Come on rain!

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          • I’m praying you get rain too. All of Calif needs it. We should stay dry through most of Sept with sporadic rain in Sept, Oct. I need roof repaired before that. If the roofer would just call me back.

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            • Oh yes…I remember it well. Don’t people want your money??? I always take it as a sign that I need to move on. I know a fabulous roofer down here. Too bad they don’t make house calls.

              Good luck.

              …and yes, all of Cali needs rain.

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