Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Tomatoes Are Coming!

The crooked little tomato branches, pulpy and pale 
as if made of cheap green paper, broke under the weight 
of so much fruit; there was something frantic in such 
fertility, a crying-out like that of children frantic to please. 
—John Updike

Jetstars ripening on the vine. All photos are clickable thumbnails to see in greater detail.

Celebrities getting fat but not adding color yet.

Early Girls are hugely prolific, and fit the Updike quote above perfectly!

Brandywine, an heirloom variety, is known for its large, very flavorful fruit, averaging one pound each. I can't wait!

V E G E T AB L E    G A R D E N — In addition to the four varieties of tomatoes pictured above, I also have a Moskvich and a German Striped. I also have a second Brandywine for a total of seven tomato plants. The German Striped is the tallest so far, almost six feet tall, but so far only has one small green tomato on it. The Early Girls are the most prolific, with perhaps a dozen burgeoning fruit on them, but the Moskvich has actually produced the most ripe fruit so far.

You can see a few of the caged and staked tomato plants in this view, along with a climbing cucumber on the right, which I'll feature in its own post soon. A couple of the basil plants are just visible on the far right.

It's been a lot of work, but also a fascinating experience to plant and fertilize them (organic only of course, including a highly odorous, yet essential, fish emulsion liquid you mix with water) and to cage and stake them, water them, feed them and prune the lower leaves which tend to turn yellow as time goes on. Tomatoes want to keep growing laterally, and I find myself manipulating their stalks almost daily to keep the main shoots inside the cages until they reach the tops, then I'll let them branch out. We've spread newspaper around the bases of the tomatoes and covered those with weed-free straw and saltwater hay to keep the weeds down, and it has really worked. It looks really nice too, lol. And of course, where there are tomatoes, there has to be...

BASIL! Basil is one of my favorite herbs. I eat it like lettuce. I have six basil plants and I've been able to eat it everyday for the past month or so, with no end in sight. I have to keep picking the budding flowers on the tops almost daily to keep them producing leaves and not seeds, but I eat the baby flowers too, so it's all great! I have some very cool cucumbers growing all over the place too, but I'll post those another day. 
Basil! I couldn't imagine any tomato dish without it. I use it instead of lettuce on sandwiches and salads. I eat so much of it that I'm not sure I'll have any left at the end of the season to make pesto, which is what most gardeners end up doing. I'm not like most gardeners though, I eat basil like it's my job.

S P E C I A L   N O T E — I have to give Mary full credit here. I create the ads for her floral design business, Floral Affair (see Blog Roll for link)  and help with her website, and in return she takes me out to lunch a lot, she bought all of the vegetable stock for my garden, gives me multiple Dahlia plants every year and gorgeous cut flowers quite often.  She has been teaching me everything about growing and caring for vegetables too. I'm good with flowers, but I've never grown vegetables before. It has been quite a learning experience, and I couldn't be more grateful to my sister-in-all-but-name!


  1. It's a very early good morning thanks to both you and Mary, see I couldn't resist snipping just a smidgen of basil as I passed through along with a couple of your riper tomatoes. I'll add some crunchy artisan bread and cream cheese and a nice white wine and lunch today will be perfect.

    And in return for you both my wishes for a beautiful day from sun up to sun set.

  2. CASEY,


  3. After going to Waldbaums and seeing the slops, but employees and cliental run their dirty figures throw the produce isles wants me to pull a "Casey" and grow my own stuff.

    It would be nice to see some of your garden samples snapped in different settings or landscapes.

    This is from my friend's site who happens to be an architect and owner of one of the more prominent Chinese restaurants in the NY area:

  4. best wishes to both of you for the day too! i'm getting a late start (again!) but i work better at night anyway. i spent almost 12 hours yesterday working on photos, old and new, for the blog! Now I have to compose my thoughts and figure out how to use them and what to write about them!

  5. YUM! Is this really your first year with tomatoes? Aren't they wonderful to watch set on the vine and grow? My dad always plants best boy, big boy and of course the ever popular better boy!!! :) Think he does one called beefsteak as well...they grow great in humid eastern NE...out on the west end of the state, it is more of a desert climate and they don't get as big red and JUICY! YUMMMY...a BLT sounds wonderful.
    I don't think I have ever had basil (i know, you can't believe it, right?)
    Will need to get on that. May I come over for lunch today Annie? sounds wonderful.
    Am headed out to Denver this aft to go with my daughter who is driving my son to DIA to fly to Nashville to see a friend.
    Hope you all have a wonderful day.

  6. There's is no taste in this world like tomatoes right off the vine. My partner and I have the goal in life of someday (hopefully soon) having someplace to grow tomoatoes. I'm from New Jersey originally so I grew up on Jersey tomatoes and Jersey corn. Sometimes when I was a child, our dinner consisted of corn, tomatoes and iced tea, and we were in heaven!

    Just a note to Casey and his regulars: we're leaving for Maine tomorrow until August 15 and will have very limited computer access. I'll look forward to catching up with everyone when I get back. I hope everyone has a great week!

    Paul, New York City



  8. Mare: Yes, first year for me and any vegetable! my parents usually had a really well-organized veggie garden, but I never helped with it. I was always more interested in flowers so I did all that work and they did the veggies. But that was 25 years ago, so anything I might have heard them talking about is long gone from my brain! You HAVE to try some basil, either fresh or in the form of pesto. you can find pesto in the refrigerated section usually next to the pre-stuffed manicotti or ravioli. You can mix a bit in with mayonnaise for a great spread, or in a cream sauce to use over pasta, or just by itself on one side of a sandwich. the fresh basil is great in tomato sauce or cut finely and used on sandwiches.

    Paul: Enjoy your time in Maine! It's a gorgeous state. I'm not sure if it's still there but there used to be a small but great car museum near Bar Harbor on Mt Desert Island. It was owned by the Rockefellers I think. I was there a LONG time ago though! If you're driving up I-95 you'll go right past me, give a wave when you pass the exit for Madison, CT (20 miles past New Haven)!

    Granny: the other residents of Pink Gardens don't really like it when i fertilize with the fish emulsion, i can only imagine if i used horse manure! : )

  9. Casey,

    I wonder if you are talking about the Owl's Head Transportation Museum. They have cars and planes, etc. A few years ago when we were in Maine we visited the Seashore Trolley Museum -- traction is another interest of mine -- part of the reason I go San Francisco every fall is to explore the streetcar system, both the historic F line on Market Street and the Embarcadero and the Muni streetcar system. Looking forward to lobster and cool nights!!

    Paul, New York City

  10. That name doesn't sound familiar. This place was too small to have planes too. It was just a small warehouse on the side of the road, but they had some incredibly rare cars, like a wooden-bodied Peugeot speedster and a Duesenberg if i remember correctly. I have old polaroids from there SOMEWHERE, lol. I'll never find them in time to let you know. It was definitely on the island though. It's probably closed now. Is Boothbay near there too? We stayed at a little hotel on the water and we found the car museum just driving around.