It’s A Jungle In There

Q: What did the papa tomato say to the baby tomato?
A: “Hurry and ketchup!”

Q: Why did Mrs. Tomato turn red?
A: She saw Mr. Green Pea over the back fence.

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There’s a jungle in our greenhouse. I would imagine many writers of gardening journals or blogs at this time of year proclaim an abundance of tomatoes, and I am no exception.

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We have 19 enormous pots of tomatoes growing in there, and most of those pots contain more than one plant. All are caged, and some reach the plastic ceiling. I started almost all of these from seed. I’ve kept them in the greenhouse, except for the week our temps reached the 80s, when I dragged these beasts out into the sunlight. Our garden is higher than  1200 ft. elevation, and our summer nights occasionally drop into the 40s. The plants have thrived in the greenhouse, to say the least. It has helped that they are planted in a rich blend of compost and organic potting mix.

Almost all of the seven varieties have green tomatoes ripening, and the first one to ripen fully is the Sun Sugar, a yellow cherry type. Delicious!

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The other varieties I’m growing are a combination of hybrids and heirlooms:  Early Girl, Sweet Million, Brandywine, San Marzano, Yellow Pear, and Park’s Whopper. The balance of great-tasting heirlooms and proven hybrids appeals to me, and I’m not a tomato purist — yet. A succinct, balanced explanation of the difference between hybrids and heirlooms can be found here.

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One might wonder why I’m growing so many tomatoes. I’ve wondered this myself. This is my very first year with a greenhouse, so that excitement has helped add to the abundance. Every growing supply, from pots to cages, was left for us by the previous owners, so there has been no real expense. I also have a hard time disposing of seedlings I’ve successfully started. It’s their potential that I don’t want to cut short — literally. Many tomato plants have gone home with dinner guests; these are just what remain. So, looking ahead to ripe tomato tonnage, I have made some plans:  I’ll be preserving whole tomatoes, puree, salsas, ketchup, and more. We’ll also be giving away bag-loads of these beauties to friends and neighbors, and I’m looking into local outreaches that accept fresh produce.

In a wee upper shelf of the greenhouse, a few pepper plants are thriving as well.

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The jalapeños are producing non-stop, and the bell peppers are coming along nicely, but they know which plant is king of this jungle.

 

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