Second Wind

I’m guessing with the recent cold stretch in SK that most of you have pulled off your green tomatoes to let them ripen indoors. This would have been the most practical thing to do. However, because some of my tomatoes were so green that they likely would not have ripened off the vine, I couldn’t quite bring myself to do it. I left my plants covered up for nearly a week (uncovering for a few hours here and there when the sun felt warm). Now, as it looks like we’re heading into an above seasonal 20ish stretch for a couple weeks, I’m hoping some of these plants will get their second wind.

Right now, I’ve got tomatoes ripening quickly enough that I’ve got a full bowl of half-ripe fruit in the house, and others on the plants. Let me be clear – this is usually where I’m at about late July, NOT mid-September. Whether it was the weather, or something I did to screw it up, my tomatoes are six weeks later than usual this year.

The majority of tomatoes I’ve eaten so far were seedlings I bought from the greenhouse – as I mentioned, a couple of the plants turned out to be cultivars I did not think I was buying, so I’ve mostly eaten Sunsugar, some sort of San Marzano or paste tomato, Celebrity, and an unknown mid-sized/cocktail slicer. I have found them all to be fairly lacking in flavour, which is frustrating because I bought them with a specific expectation of their taste. I wondered if it was something I screwed up, until I finally got to eat my first ripe seed-started heirloom today.

It was a seed I started from a “surprise pack” so I’m not sure what cultivar it actually is. My best guess would be Cherokee Purple (link is to the shop I got the surprise pack from), which is a plant I wanted to grow this year but lost the seeds. The fruits are pretty small for CP, but that doesn’t mean much since this year was so weird – there are a variety of things that could have stunted their growth/production.

Anyway! The first tomato that ripened looked like this:

…which is so horrid and ugly and cracked that I had to cut off almost half of the fruit to get to the actual edible parts (this is one reason why heirloom tomatoes are really not marketable). BUT the flavour was absolutely outstanding. I only got 5 small bites, but it was ridiculously flavourful. What a relief to find out that the poor flavour of my greenhouse tomatoes was not my fault, but probably due to some poor quality seeds.

So, I have finally reached the point where I remember why I torture myself in the early fall to extend the season for these long-maturity heirloom cultivars. There are some tomatoes whose flavour just cannot be matched by anything else.

My ananas noire (the best tasting tomato IMO) plants have been especially slow to start ripening, but I think this next week or so of around 20C temperatures should give them their final push into ripening.

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