Last year was a big tomato year. I planted about 35 tomato plants in the new sunny part of the rock garden and by the end of the wet summer we were left with thousands – and I do mean thousands – of green tomatoes. I tried a number of different ripening techniques including: tomatoes in the dark, tomatoes on a sunny windowsill, tomatoes wrapped in newsprint, tomatoes at room temperature, and tomatoes in a cool, dark garage. Gradually, most turned brown and then fuzzy and a few managed to stay hard and green for months. I’ve also tried a number of green tomato recipes including: green tomato relish, fried green tomatoes (several ways), and green tomato curry. Sadly, none of these recipes are suitable for serving to guests or to family.
Last year we actually had some spectacular tomato plants that sprouted spontaneously in the front yard. On late fall afternoon I asked my assistant to pull up the plants and put them in the compost. As he pulled them up and carried them around the house, several hundred hard green tomatoes broke free, rolled down our driveway and into the street. The next morning I was pretty surprised by all the squished green tomatoes squished on the road and in the gutter.
This year, I’m hoping things will be different. I planted a few patio varieties in pots on my deck. They seem to be growing well and getting lots of flowers, but after the flowers bloom, they fall off instead of forming fruit. I don’t think the bees are pollinating the tomatoes, so I am trying to fertilize the flowers with a small dry paintbrush. Hopefully that will work better….
And the ah-ha moment….last fall I bought a few tomato cages which spent the winter in the garage. When I first planted the tomatoes I tried to put the tomato cages in the pots, but the wire circles wouldn’t fit in the pots so I thought “Just as well, those sharp wires sticking out the top are going to poke one of my assistants’ eyes out!” So, I used the tomato cages for the climbing beans, but they kept falling over. Today I figured out that the stupid tomato cages were upside down, and the sharp wires sticking out the tops are used to anchor the cages in the soil. DUH. So, I took the cages out of the beans, turned them over and inserted them into the tomato pots where they belong. And I feel like an idiot…