First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

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First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Robin Garr » Sat Jun 17, 2006 1:14 pm

Maybe Al Gore is right ... around here in the Upper South, the folk saying has always been "Plant your tomatoes on Derby Day (first Saturday in May), start harvesting them on the Fourth of July." In practice, we've found this rule of thumb a little optimistic, and our tomatoes generally start bearing ripe fruit around mid-July.

Not this year!

<img src="http://www.wineloverspage.com/graphics1/beefsteak.jpg" border="1">

It was so warm in April that we risked planting around the third week of the month, taking the slight risk of loss if there had been an unusually late frost. (In fact, there was not.) Since then we've had a mostly mild-to-cool and rainy season, which you would't expect to hasten ripeness. But this morning Mary went out to the garden, and to our amazed surprise, we found this beauty hanging there, just betting to be turned into the season's first BLT. On June 17!

Wherever you are in the world, how are your tomatoes doing? Is anyone else in the US seeing signs of a record-breaking early season?

This is an heirloom beefsteak variety called "Mortgage Lifter," by the way; we purchased the plant from a Southern Indiana farmer at Louisville's Bardstown Road Farmer's Market in April. This baby is BIG - roughly 5 inches by 3 1/2 inches by 3 inches at its broadest points, and weighing in at just under 14 ounces, almost a full pound.
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Barb Freda » Sat Jun 17, 2006 9:45 pm

Well, I didn't plant any, not even in a pot for the balcony...because I was watching this riotous bunch of seedlings sprout among the palms and things near a corner of the building...someone either just tossed old tomatoes there or sprinkled a packet of seeds...There were a ton of green tomatoes and I was itching to pick them...

Then came the landscapers and their poison. One day they were there. The next day, they were gone and any stray vines were wilting from a good dose of spray....

I was sad. No homegrown maters yet.

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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby John Tomasso » Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:04 am

We've got some but they haven't turned red yet. We are having a heat spike right now that is supposed to last a few days - that might turn 'em.
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:25 am

John Tomasso wrote:We've got some but they haven't turned red yet. We are having a heat spike right now that is supposed to last a few days - that might turn 'em.


The funny thing about this baby, John, is that it has actually been cold and damp here. It does seem to be a bit of a statistical outlier, though. We've got about eight plants this year, a number of different heirloom varieties and some Romas, and none of the others are anywhere close.
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Robin Garr » Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:26 am

Barb Freda wrote:I was sad. No homegrown maters yet.


Hey, Barb! Haven't seen you since Proof. Hope all's well. As for maters, will they grow year-round in Florida?
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Bob Cohen » Sun Jun 18, 2006 10:52 pm

It was so cold and rainy this spring in upstate NY (until now - all of a sudden the HOT switch was turned on) that I didn't get my tomatoes in the ground until a week or so ago. Usual time here is Memorial Day.

I'm not expecting a good crop this year unless it's warm enough for the plants to really start taking off.

Nice big tomato you've got there - and your basil looks nice, too.
--Bob
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Bob Ross » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:51 pm

Robin, what is that tag in the upper center of the picture? Are you marking the type of basil?

Pretty damn fancy I say. What's your technique?

Regards, Bob
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Bob Ross » Sun Jun 18, 2006 11:51 pm

Hey Bob, did you get my PM on the old site about a replacement camera?

Regards, Bob
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Barb Freda » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:35 am

Hey, there...it's been a very hectic few weeks, but should settle down now...I loved reading the Proof piece (I would have been harsher about that penne, but I can be undiplomatic sometimes...you were great)...

Anyway, yep, I think I could probably have container tomatoes on my balcony year round here...jsut haven't tried...but I was watching that patch of tomatoes hungrily...until it disappeared...what a bummer...and the patch was enormous.

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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 20, 2006 11:45 am

Barb Freda wrote:Hey, there...it's been a very hectic few weeks, but should settle down now...I loved reading the Proof piece (I would have been harsher about that penne, but I can be undiplomatic sometimes...you were great)...


I thought about coming down a little harder ... "hand rolled," my butt ... those were Barilla or somebody.

Glad to hear things are settling down, Barb! Still ridiculously busy here, too, and I seem to have become addicted to the World Cup this year so I keep wanting to tear away from too much work and go watch TV ...
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Jenise » Tue Jun 20, 2006 1:07 pm

Robin,

I planted around May 1st with 10" starts grown by a local nursery. They started budding fairly soon. Then the sun went away. I now have the most beautiful tomato vines I have ever grown--thick and full, with stalks as big as a quarter, but so far as I know, no set fruit. Strangely, jalapenos and serranos planted in the same location at 4" tall are still 4" tall. Cilantro and parsley started growing beautifully, but bolted immediately.

I don't know what the h*** is going on. :)
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:09 pm

Jenise wrote:I don't know what the h*** is going on. :)


Mary is our gardener, not me, but she just comes in shaking her head this season. I say it's global warming, and I blame the Republicans. ;-)

This tomato appeared to be an outlier. The plants (about 12 of them, now that I look) are all doing great, and they've got loads of blossoms and some small green fruit. But this one guy just took off when none of his siblings were. No clue what made that happen, but it tasted just as good as it looked. Maybe even better. I had never heard of "Mortgate Lifter" before, but it's a remarkable beefsteak, big enough to cover a slice of rye with one tomato slice, and it's almost entirely meat, just a few seeds, and a very good, ripe and sweet old-fashioned tomato flavor.
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Jenise » Tue Jun 20, 2006 3:28 pm

The tomato sounds great. Is that the only plant you have by that wonderful name? Which other varieties have you planted?
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Robin Garr » Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:38 pm

Jenise wrote:The tomato sounds great. Is that the only plant you have by that wonderful name? Which other varieties have you planted?


For a nice little story on the variety, which came out of West Virginia in the Great Depression, check the link under the photo at the top of this thread. :)

We've got a couple of them, a traditional beefsteak, and yet another heirloom beefsteak called "Boxcar Willie." A couple of brandywines (regular red heirloom) and a few Romas for gravy. :)

No yellow, pink, purple or blue tomatoes. If it ain't red, it's not a tomato.
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Jenise » Tue Jun 20, 2006 4:54 pm

If it ain't red, it's not a tomato.


No wonder they threw you out of California. :)

Hey, just checked on my 'maters, and found some little green 1/2" balls, so they's a-comin'. Romas, Early Girls and something called Joseph's Best I haven't tried before. Can't do anything too exotic up here.
Last edited by Jenise on Wed Jun 21, 2006 12:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First tomato of the season already! Global warming ...

Postby Karen/NoCA » Tue Jun 20, 2006 9:17 pm

Beautiful tomato Robin. Here in Redding CA, I usually plant right after April 15th, our last frost date. This year I was two weeks late because of very wet weather. I have ten tomato plants, lots of full grown, green tomatoes. The only ones I've picked are the Sun Gold Cherry type. I usually have my first tomato in June and they go until October. This year, the foliage is not as abundant as usual so we are having to use shade cloths. I already have some scalding. An Early Girl is getting pink, the rest are heirlooms and plum type, and still green. I have five kinds of basil, all doing well, I cut some everyday!
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