The First Ripe Tomato of 2009!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's a seminal moment in the Backyard of Bird.

The first tomato of the 2009 season is now ripening in one of the main, raised planter beds. It's May 16th, and I have a tomato getting ripe in the backyard.

Unbelievable. I've never quite seen production like this before.

The first ripe tomato of 2009 from our North Natomas backyard is not a cherry tomato. It's a Bloody Butcher -- one of the many starter plants provided by Farmer Fred Hoffman earlier this year. And, actually, it's off one of the very first tomato plants that Venus and I put into the ground.

Others followed mere seconds later when we planted the first raised bed with eight tomato plants, but the Bloody Butcher was first to go into the ground.

It's now the first to produce a ripened tomato, or it soon will (we haven't picked it yet).

I wasn't expecting to see this quite this early in the season. I know that I've been blessed with early season production. That's been discussed in an earlier posting on the blog. The 16 tomato plants that Venus and I put into the ground five weeks ago are literally jumping out of the ground now, and continue to produce small tomatoes at a rapid rate.

Small tomatoes that are getting bigger.

But I never expected to see what I saw today. The moment came, as they always do, completely by accident. I was tending another part of the garden when I noticed a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. I nearly thought it was just another ladybug (we do have a lot of them), but when I saw that flash of color again, I knew instantly this was no ladybug.

If it had been, I would have been a bit frightened. That would be one big ladybug.

As I moved closer to inspect this surprise color, it suddenly dawned on me that fresh-off-the-vine tomato season was just about to begin. I never expected to see a tomato ripen this quickly. In previous years, the first ripe tomato of the season was normally a cherry tomato. And -- normally -- it wasn't that good because Venus and I refused to wait and picked it early.

We won't make that mistake this year.

The first ripe tomato of the season isn't big enough for a salad. It might cover a standard hamburger or two with several slices, but that's about all. And it doesn't signal that more ripe tomatoes are on the way in May. At least -- I think it doesn't signal it.

Who knows what surprises the garden holds? For now -- I can tell you that the first ripe tomato of 2009 isn't a surprise -- nor is it a dream. It's reality.


Christine said...

Wow! That is spectacular. I am such a garden geek I actually dreamed about vines full of ripening tomatoes last night. Needless to say I am super jealous. Congratulations again.

Bill Bird said...

Don't be jealous! Your time will come Christine. It will come. In another month or so, you'll be begging people to take ripe tomatoes off your hands because you have far, far, far too many of them.

Garry said...

hey bill,

if you listened to the fred on saturday - you know he was calling you out on your ripe tomato. proof is in the picture. probably a couple weeks for optimum ripness, but congrats on an early treat. i have a few little itty bitties on my plants. 1800 foot elevation pushes me several weeks later than you for planting and frosts. good job!


Bill Bird said...


I didn't hear him! Do you know what hour it was? I sent him the pictures! I've got to hear it!

Bill Bird said...


You're right. He did call me out. Oh well, he's still the guru and still my gardening inspiration. And it was still the first ripe tomato of 2009. But the posting is one of excitement, not bragging rights.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations. I started my tomatoes early this year in 18 gallon tubs and have several small green ones. I already have several peppers. Container gardening has allowed me to expand my usual garden and to grow winter vegetables without worrying about them not being done prior to tomato time.