Mom has been gardening up a storm and wrote the following about tomatoes:
Some heirlooms show up in nurseries this time of year, but not many varieties. After several discouraging years of hunting, I decided to mail-order several varieties. Being able to order one of each variety allows us to taste-test and determine our short-list.
From past garden adventures we know that green zebra, pineapple and purple Russian are sure winners. We also know that IF we can find these tomatoes at the farmers’ market, they are selling for about $4 a pound. Shoot, we eat a couple of pounds in one meal!
Heirlooms still have great flavor and interesting colors. The hybrids are developed to be heavy producing, easy handling money-makers. I go for flavor and looks! You will, too, when you find the varieties that fit you palate.
With heirlooms we also have the opportunity to collect seed. Most heirlooms remain true, even when planted near other varieties. That is probably the only reason we still have heirlooms!
Now these tiny mail-order plants have arrived about a month too early, in the middle of April. Spring is late in stabilizing here in the Sierra Nevada foothills, witnessed by last week’s brief snow.
We put the plants into 4-inch pots with good soil and placed the pots under a small greenhouse cover. The plants joined some seedlings of tomatoes from our own saved seed of last season. This is so much fun…almost addictive.
The greenhouse cover was a gift from my brother when he moved to a home that had a full greenhouse set up. Before his gift, I used simple solutions like rigging up some temporary sides to the tomato shelter, then covering it with 4mil plastic. Both solutions work well.
Temperatures are finally becoming more stable and the soil is warming, so we will move the tomato guests into the orchard to grow beneath some young fruit trees. Lots of sun there. And, tomatoes are sun-lovers.
I’m already thinking about some of the dishes I’ll put together with those tomato treasures. Nothing is more beautiful than chunks of Green Zebra, Red Mortgage Lifter, and Yellow Pineapple tossed together with crushed garlic, olive oil, a bit of vinegar, ribbons of basil, and crushed sea salt. Oh my!