Here Come the Heirlooms!!!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

It's another late year for heirloom tomato production in the North Natomas garden of Bill and Venus Bird. My apologies for not updating the blog sooner -- it's been a rather busy month in the world of politics. And it's prevented me from sitting down to muse about one of my favorite outdoor activities -- the garden.

I would have to rate this year to be between the ranges of very good and outstanding. But the best is yet to come. For some strange reason, my heirloom plants are now just beginning to produce large amounts of fruit. About half of the garden has been giving me tomatoes since July, but the other half didn't even produce so much as a single solitary tomato -- up until about a month ago.

And boy, how things changed.

The Pineapple Beefsteak -- a six high foot plant with zero tomatoes on it developed its first tiny tomato in mid-August. Two days later there was another. Then two more. Then five. Then TEN!!!! Anyone for TWENTY!!!! THIRTY!!!!


And it just wasn't the Pineapple Beefsteak that suddenly erupted in this "fruity wonder." All of the non producers suddenly stood tall and performed a scene out of "Girls Gone Wild." All of a sudden I had tomatoes in extraordinary numbers on the Omar's Lebanese, Pruden's Purple, Brandywine, Kellogg's Breakfast, Rainbow Beefsteak, Cherokee Purple and more! And the August appearance of fruit held a promise of big harvests in September. A harvest that is now just beginning.

The wonderful looking tomato you see to your left was harvested just tonight. I could not wait any longer. I wanted to save it for the weekend -- when I plan to can some salsa -- but this thing was just getting a tad soft and had to come off right now! I was only too happy to oblige. This is a Pineapple Beefsteak -- about 1 lb. in weight and it's the second ripe tomato to come off the Pineapple Beef plant.

If this tomato is anything like the first, I know I'm in for a very sweet surprise. This isn't an especially tart or acidic tomato. It is, however, extremely sweet. Pineapple sweet, which is probably where this tomato got its name. This will be perfect chopped into spears and given a light dusting of salt, pepper and a little oregano.

The garden promises a lot of this in the next month. If the weather holds, I'll stretch heirloom season well into November. While I know we need the rain up north in California (and we really do), rain normally signals the end of tomato growing season in the North State. The tomatoes split with the excess moisture, and loose that fresh-off-the-vine zip.

So, for tonight -- a feast for heirloom tomato lovers. The second of what I hope will be many Pineapple Beefsteaks to come off the vine.

Heirloom season is in full swing. An heirloom gardener could not ask for more.

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