The Tomato System, V1.0

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Things are nervous on our tiny farm. The first hard frost is lurking like a vandal. The season is ending. I can smell it. It’ll be Armageddon for cucumbers and catastrophe for peppers. The zucchini blossoms will all turn black and crunchy. No more basil. No more melons. No more pansies for our salad mix. Fortunately, our tomatoes are protected. They’ll survive awhile longer. But even their end is near. The time has come to take account.

It’s been a long year for us on the farm. And to be totally honest, the amount of energy (and the number of hours) I’ve been able to put in has been waning for a while. I’ve been getting by on good intentions and the grace of my friends. Fortunately, all the hard work we’d done earlier in the year laid a solid foundation and allowed us to coast a bit. Otherwise we’d have augured a long time ago.

With that in mind, looking back on the year, I focus on the positive. I focus on our  plant / soil block sales. I focus on our greens. And I focus on tomatoes.

This was our year to finally learn to grow tomatoes. And while we still have a lot to learn, we’ve come a long way. Our system allowed us to be among the very first growers to have ripe tomatoes at market. We’ll likely also be among the last. Our yields were great and our quality was very good. Of everything we’ve done around here, I might be most proud of the tomatoes. We’ve struggled mightily in the past. It’s good to have turned at least one corner, at least temporarily.

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Our New Tomato System and Linguine with Roast Heirloom Tomatoes

Tomato_Pasta

What a difference a year makes. Twelve months ago we were struggling through the most horrible tomato season imaginable. (It’s here: My first ever post!) This year it’s a whole new story. Now we’re swimming in tomatoes, like Scrooge McDuck backstroking through his big vault of money. I can’t believe how well they’re coming and how good they taste. What’s more, we’re selling out every week at market. It’s great.

I’d like to take all the credit for our turnaround. And I’d like to blame all of last year’s crappiness  on environmental conditions. It’s been a long season. I deserve the props and could use the validation. So I’m tempted. But that wouldn’t be true. We made plenty of mistakes last year. We deserve as much blame as does the weather. And this year the conditions have been much better, granting us a natural advantage. That being said, this year we’ve done a lot to influence the outcome and improve our results.

Tomato_Heirloom

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The Nursery Hoop, Cuban Black Beans and Escabeche

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Our tiny 1/4 acre farm is three blocks off main street. The land is zoned residential. We have neighbors living across a six-foot cedar fence. Out my window right now I see lights on inside the church across the street. This is not a traditional agricultural setting. There isn’t an open vista with great views of the sunrise. There isn’t an old barn or broken down tractor (or these days a cell  tower or gas well head) anywhere on the property. Instead we’re surrounded by homes, kids, traffic, churches, schools and people just trying to live their lives. I love our little farm. I need and want our neighbors to love it too. I want to be nothing but a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

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