Saturday, October 9, 2010

Just Rotten

Today I believe that I discovered why so many tomatoes rot on the vines at our community garden. Because we live in a city, without the space nor time to process so many fruits at once and neither does our livelihood or survival depend on it.

How did I make this discovery? Charged with cleaning the house today, I decided to tackle the compost bin first -it was filled with tomatoes and starting to smell of fermentation. Before emptying that outside in the pile, I thought I would handle the three different piles of tomatoes we had from recent farm harvest expeditions on the countertop. My fingers instinctively retracted as the tips sunk into the gooey mess on the underside of one tomato, then another, and another. How about the ones in the bowl, nope, those too. Disgusting. The bottom side of almost every tomato, ripe or just ripe, had turned to mush or had slits foaming with with white mold. The runny juices, had slowly moved from the pile to the collection of salt, pepper, and oils. Through some sort of capillary action, these juices made their way up into the pepper grinder. Yuck and now trash.

I had just the other day went through all the super size cherry tomatoes to pick out the cracked and moldy. I thought I had gotten them all. Here's my speculation: The overdose of rain at the beach farm, in conjunction with regular watering, cool temps, and the ground or near-ground contact of so many of the tomatoes brought them into contact with all kinds of fungus and bacteria ready to take them on. They hardly had a chance. My instinct had been to resist eating any of these post rain tomatoes fresh. Now, those ripe and free of goo, are in the oven to be de-skinned, and boiled, for a long time, as sauce.

Betsy and I have been talking about how we will stagger everything next year, so that we can try to reduce an inundation of tomatoes and other vegetables. We'll also grow some heirloom types that seem to produce less tomatoes. The broccoli and peppers were abundant, kept longer, and were easier to process into frozen packages. We just didn't have the time or space for 100 tomatoes.

Despite all this, we're still trying to concoct a scheme so that we can have another plot -maybe one of those unused, untended plots. I judge myself not on this years experience, which I think was a grand success given our planting dates in late July and very little care given to much of the growing.


  1. I think it also helps the pinch the terminal growth and the suckers on tomato plants to keep them small and producing fewer (but tastier) fruit.

  2. NSARH,

    I've never been a proper pruner of tomatoes, I'm too hands off once things go in (read lazy if you wish:). Plucking suckers, maybe. But then, next year things will go in on time, and be trellised, etc etc.


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