My favorite tomato for 2016!

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I always plant several new varieties of tomatoes each year and the winner hands down for 2016 was:

LUCKY CROSS

lucky-cross-insideIt is a fantastic yellowish tomato with pink blush outside and inside as well. Sometimes they were more yellowish with pink overtones and sometimes more pinkish with some yellow overtones. No matter the color, it has an exceptional sweet flavor like a Brandywine. It never cracked or got diseases and was very prolific. It is a potato leaf variety. I haven’t been this excited about a tomato for a long time. It now beats my beloved Virginia Sweet tomatoes which are prone to cracks and diseases.

When I did some research on this tomato, the variety originally came from Craig LeHoullier (author of Epic Tomatoes). He stated it came from a Brandywine and an unknown bee-produced cross and had the luck to grow it out with these great attributes.  You can read the story of it from him here. No wonder I thought it tasted like a Brandywine! It is now a stable open-pollinated (OP) tomato and will grow out the same each generation. I saved some of the seeds from this beauty and will definitely grow it next season.

Transplanting tomatoes

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So many have asked, “Am I’m going to plant my tomatoes in the ground soon?” The answer is not too soon. I just transplanted all my tomatoes into 2″ pots and they need to get bigger! (Look Linda and Lava, how big they are already!) All you who ordered your tomatoes will get them, don’t worry. When? As soon as they are ready.

I actually delayed starting them this year as I don’t want to put them in their wall of waters (WOWs) too big. Wall of waters are great protecting our tender plants from the cold nights and from the WIND. I will still put my plants in WOWs even if it doesn’t freeze at night anymore because they like the warm environment the WOWs provide. And tomatoes love heat. It does look as if the freezing nights are over but one never knows. Might be one of those early warm years. Wouldn’t that be great!

Many newbies and some of us oldies get impatient to plant outside as soon as the May 15 (or even sooner) magical date has arrived. Really? It’s a guideline, not carved in stone. Will you be out there come hell or high water, cold temperatures or crazy winds trying to get an early start? To what advantage? I’ve found those with patience have the biggest advantage as they know that if they wait maybe just a little longer than that magical date, they may not only catch up to those who planted sooner, but may surpass them in growth. Why? Because the earth gets warmer, the nights gets warmer and the days will surely get warmer too-all good things when planting tomatoes (and other warm season crops). So don’t be in such a hurry-slow down and enjoy the beginning of this next growing season.

Drying tomatoes

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So someone gave me a jar of dehydrated tomatoes in olive oil and I thought they looked very beautiful and I know when you put them in pasta dishes, it’s bursts of intense tomato flavor. A great addition in the kitchen. So I thought, that’s what I can do with all those little cherry tomatoes! Look how beautiful they look when first put on the trays. I’ve dehydrated some during the last 2 weeks. I put all kinds together and not just cherry tomatoes.

tomatoes in oil

Here they are in the olive oil in a jar. I love these jars from Italy-Quattro Stagioni.
You can get them at Amazon. These are the 5 oz size.

I want to still eat some fresh while they last but there is definitely more than I or a small army can eat before they go bad. Today I also made 4 more pans of tomato tapenade. Pantry is getting full quick!

I’m Baaack-Tomato Lady returned to Farmer’s Market last Saturday

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So last Saturday I returned to the Farmer’s Market here in Santa Fe and plan to be there on Saturdays until the end of the season when it freezes. I saw many friends and old faces there-people who have been waiting for my return and it was good to see them come back. Thank you!

It’s such a short market for an heirloom tomato grower. Our end of season is always dependent on when the first freeze happens. Sometime it happens in late October, once it happened in September (God forbid), and only once in November! Pray for a nice long fall or as we say around here, an Indian summer, so I can get all those wonderful tomatoes that are just coming in on my mini farm to the market.

I have 31 varieties this year and 125 plants. Someone asked me if they are all there at the market at the same time and alas the answer is no as I have early varieties, mid-varieties and late season varieties growing in the garden. What I can tell you is that I grow many unusual varieties of heirloom and open pollinated tomatoes whose seeds come from all over the world. Many of them you will not find here at our market or even be able to get the plants in the garden nurseries. I start them in April inside the house and transfer them to the garden after the last freeze in spring and this year, our last snow was May 16. So as you can see, it takes a long time to get these babies to the market. And after spending so much time with them I do indeed call them my ‘babies’.

Every year I have some new varieties I try. This year some of them are Black and Brown Boar, Cascade Lava, Artisan Blush Tiger and Purple Bumblebees. I also have my favorites that I grow every year for the market like Costuluto Genevese, Pantano Romanesco, Marmande Garnier Rouge, Juane Flamme, Paul Robeson, Indigo Rose and Pink Berkeley Tie Dye plus many more varieties. Then at the end of the season I evaluate them based on your taste buds and input and some of the new ones make it on my ‘all star’ list and some don’t. So come down to the market and check out what other tomatoes I have going on. I also sell other heirloom veggies like Fairytale eggplant, Shishito peppers, many varieties of beans and other veggies but as you all know tomatoes are my speciality!

My tomatoes love the sun and warmth!

tomatoes ready for market

Tomatoes ready for the Santa Fe Farmer’s market

Last week was warm and sunny-just what tomatoes need to ripen. Temperatures in the mid 80s. It’s a little cooler this week but still nice. Suddenly I have all kinds of tomatoes ripening-yea!

tomato lady at Santa Fe Farmer's Market

Up till last week I’ve barely had enough ripe ones to go to the Farmer’s Market much less make tomato sauce but now I have plenty to sell-just get there early as I sell out pretty early even with all these tomatoes. Here’s my booth at the Farmer’s Market. It is located inside the big building. Just look up for a big sign that says, ‘Tomato Lady’ to find me.

I noticed the number of ripe tomatoes have been growing here at my little farm and now they are exploding! Yea! I’m hoping for an Indian summer-that means the rest of September will be nice and warm which should keep them coming.

2014 Tomato Season in Santa Fe

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My all time favorite-an heirloom-a ‘Virginia Sweet’ tomato-a super sweet tomato worth the wait and weight.

Every year I try to get to the Farmers Market EARLY to sell tomatoes. Early to me would be end of July. Actually I would be delighted to even get to the market the first week of August. But no. Never. It’s not me I swear-I do my job. I get the tomato plants in the ground early enough. It’s THE WEATHER! Every year someone will ask me at the market how come they:

1. Don’t have any tomatoes or

2. Only have lots of green ones.

This year it’s the later because of THE WEATHER. So let me explain-No. 1 and No. 2 above and how both relate to THE WEATHER. This year we didn’t have a super hot June which was great because our tomato blossoms were able to set fruit in June. (If it’s really hot in June, then we experience blossom drop. Tomato blossoms won’t set fruit in temperatures 92°F and hotter.  They would have all dropped off all their little blossoms in our stinking hot Junes – hence no fruit and they grow more blossoms and set fruit up in July when it’s cooler but that puts us behind-see no. 1.)  But that’s not the case this year.

So on to no.2-we got LOTS of fruit now but they are mostly still green so we are still behind. Why? THE WEATHER! Now I don’t mean to pass the buck here as they say, but it’s true. July and now August this year has been delightfully cool and rainy. Daytime temperatures are cooler and nighttime temperatures are definitely cooler. Just like the old days with a real monsoon season. Now those of you new to the area (meaning you have moved here sometime in the last 12 years) have not really experienced the monsoon season, so enjoy it. Who knows when we will get another since we’ve been in drought like conditions the last 12 years.

Ok, back to why it’s THE WEATHER’S FAULT! So what’s happen is we have lots of green fruit but now we need some WARM SUNNY days to ripen the fruit. Even though the fruit can’t tolerate too hot of weather when trying to set fruit, after it’s set, they need warm sunny days to ripen up. All we’ve been mostly experiencing is very cool weather. Ah, what are we gonna do? It’s either too hot when they set blossoms or too cool to ripen.  Both scenarios make for a very late tomato season. Ah crumba!  I hope we get the warm days soon before fall comes as I have a ton of tomatoes on the vines! I sometimes wonder why I even bother and then I remember! I love tomatoes! I love trying new varieties! I’m a tomato addict!

69 tomato plants in the ground! 5 more to go

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The tomatoes in their Wall of Waters to stay warm at night. Doesn’t look like much now but come July the tomatoes should look like a jungle.

What a whirlwind week. Elodie Holmes and Mernie Elsesser helped me plant 35 tomato plants on Monday and on Friday Janet Hiron helped me plant 24 more tomato plants for a total of 59 in the main garden. Great to have such good friends help with what would be an overwhelming task for one person! Thanks to all!

Sunday I planted 10 more in the greenhouse and still want to plant 5 more in the raised beds by the house but the bulk of the work is done with the tomatoes. There will be a total of 74 tomato plants this year for the Tomato Lady. We put wall of waters around each plant. Even though we are past freezes at night here in Santa Fe, tomatoes (and peppers) do not like the cold nights and 45°F is cold to them right now. They don’t like any temperature from 55°F and lower and it will be a while before we get above 55°F at night. The wall of waters act like little greenhouses keeping your tomatoes and peppers warm at night after absorbing all that sun in the daytime. By the time the tomatoes outgrow the wall of waters, the night temperatures will be warmer and we can take them off.

This week: Planting giant pumpkins and the start of the rest of the veggie garden