Nothing says “Summer” better than “Tomato”

As I stand in my garden and look around I realise I can’t possibly delay the evitable any longer.  The tomato plants need to come out. It’s not that I like having these scruffy bedraggled poor excuse for plants in my garden, but it is what they signify that is causing hesitation.   Tomatoes represent everything that is good about long hot sunny days:  BBQs, salads, picnic sandwiches by the beach.  Just the smell of a fresh tomato can invoke images of those never ending carefree days of a kiwi summer.

Let's face it - it's over

Let's face it - it's over

But I need to face the plain and simple truth – summer is over.  By leaving an eyesore in the middle of the garden isn’t going to make the warmer weather linger any longer.  I need to embrace all that is good about the cooler seasons.  But when I think of cabbage the only images I can muster up are grey overcooked mush!  There must be more to winter gardening than mush.  Let’s see…  Brussels sprouts? Turnips? Mud? Freezing cold? Yeah Nah. It doesn’t get much better.  I much prefer summer gardening.

In the summer I can grow so many different things – exciting things, not like the boring humdrum winter crops.  In the summer there is nothing better than going out into the garden to get dinner, or better still, dragging the BBQ out to the veggie garden and eating food with food miles of less than a metre!

It’s a complete cliché but the flavour of food at its freshest possible is incredible.  You haven’t truly tasted asparagus unless you have boiled the water before harvesting the tender spears for the steamer.  So sweet and oh so incredible.  The sound of a freshly picked capsicum when sliced open is just like the sound of biting into a new season apple – CRUNCH!  The smell of new garlic straight out of the ground is so amazingly aromatic and the flavour is phenomenal!  The zucchini provides such an inexhaustible supply that you can no longer give them away so you have no alternative but to hide them in chocolate cakes with interesting results.  But the ultimate summer pleasure is without a doubt the sun warmed, fully vine ripened tomato, eaten simply – in the garden, with the juice running down your arm.  Ah nothing better!

Summer is now just a memory...

Summer is now just a memory...

But all this daydreaming of what has been, doesn’t help me now,  I need to pull my gumboots on, get out into the garden and rip out the fading reminder of warmer days and then come inside and make a hearty veggie soup and dream and plan about how fantastic next summer will be.

Come again soon – a gardener’s work is never done.

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

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25 Comments on “Nothing says “Summer” better than “Tomato”

  1. Couldn’t agree more about tomatoes. They are my main reason for gardening (even though I’m not having much luck so far this spring), and one of my absolute favorite foods–homegrown, of course!

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    • Hi there. A garden wouldn’t be a garden without tomatoes! They are the star of the show! I like to plant as many varieties as I can fit in. They all taste so different and nothing like the ordinary shop ones! Cheers Sarah : o )

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  2. Ah. Pulling out the tomatoes at the end of our season always makes me sad. They’re so delicious, so nice. Last year I managed to baby mine into our early-winter. There are some varieties that you can grow in a small unheated greenhouse, but I don’t think they’d compare to the glory that is the summer tomato.

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    • Hi there, I’ve already have some small tomato plants tucked up nice and warm in the greenhouse. I managed to do it sucessfully last year, although I found that the smaller cherry type tomatoes are best, as they don’t take as long to become edible. But the flavour is so much more intense because they have grown slower. A really nice treat in the middle of winter. I also tried it with peppers – but they only got hotter! Cheers Sarah : o )

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  3. Ah. I forgot to add. Broccoli can grow quite well during the winter if protected with a simple PVC hoophouse–garlic too.

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    • Winters here are quite mild and we can grow quite a selection of cool weather crops without too much effort. I’m currently nurturing a whole range of brassica, onion and a whole lot more seedlings, that should be planted out in the next week or so. Garlic gets planted on the shortest day here so in the depth of mid winter! I just need to make sure all the garden beds are ready now, while the weather is still nice! Cheers Sarah : o )

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  4. Hey, I noticed you are growing your tomatoes in the open. I am planning to do the same, is there anything that I should be looking out for? Bird protection really necessary?

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    • Hi Justin. The birds are a bit of a pain when growing tomatoes outside. I have tried netting (although to be fair I didn’t have enough so it was a poor attempt), hanging CDs and noisy things etc. But then I decided that they don’t eat all the tomatoes – but they do have their favourites, so now I sort of put up with it, and I also have been known to pick them just before the birds get them and let them fully ripen off the plant. Good luck. Cheers Sarah : o )

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  5. Spinach and greens grow well during the winter, too! A simple row cover (hoop house) will keep them going fairly late into the season.

    But I do agree, the tomato is the queen of the summer season. I love a sun-warmed tomato enjoyed in the garden as well, but also am looking forward to my first tomato salad of the season: Sun-warmed tomato with fresh basil, a little olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh mozzarella. Oooh…heaven! And sun-warmed cantaloupe for breakfast? Oh, my my!

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    • Hi Jenn. We are really lucky enough to have a mild enough climate to grow through the winter, so while a little more hardiness is required from the gardener, nipping out in freezing cold rain to get a fresh broccoli is worth it!
      I have so far failed to grow cantaloupe – not for lack of trying. Next season I am going to try growing them in the greenhouse to see if the extra warmth is what is needed. Then I’ll be able see what its like to have cantaloupe for breakfast! Cheers Sarah : o )

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  6. Agreed on the tomatoes- nothing makes us (or our dinner guests) happier, we still have a few months to go before they get going.

    Funny, we also boil the water before picking a few things (summer corn, in particular) and then literally run them to the kitchen…

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  7. Oh so much fun to meet a gardener on the other end of the growing season.Here in California I am just putting in my tomatoes ;).

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    • Hi There. That’s what I love about being on “the other side” of the world, when there is not a lot going on in my garden I can still read about others! and vice versa! Have a great growing season. Cheers Sarah : o )

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  8. How I love vine-ripened tomatoes! When I was about 14, I would take a salt shaker to the tomato garden and pick n eat for a very long time. Every day. Until I broke out inside my mouth, all over my face, and down my neck. The doctor was kind enough to let me have tomatoes the NEXT growing season, but no more mater-marathons!! LOL

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  9. I really enjoyed reading about what joy people from around the world get out of the Tomato garden. I spend hald my winter months thinking about all the things I’m going to change to make the Greenhouse better. It is only a covering for the Tomatoes during the winter months. Better run just had another idea that needs tending.

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    • I am about to harvest my first ever tomatoes, very small and hard right now. I planted two Early Girl seedlings in pots in January. I pulled them in and out from under the overhang on the porch every day, gave them collected rainwater to drink. I know, now it’s May 16, that seems WAY too long to wait for tomatoes, but I think the cool temp then the crazy weather fluctuations in March set them back, because I planted five different varieties in the ground in March and they are huge and starting to fruit now. Well, I’m a beginner, that’s why I call my web series “Late Bloomer!” But, as tomatoes and corn and watermelons are my favorite foods being from the South, that’s what I planted! Fingers crossed!

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      • I am raising six different varieties of tomatoes this year and have pledged myself to keeping up with reporting on them in my area. Follow along as our season is just getting going. It’s good to hear that the young people want to try gardening. Feel free to ask anything of an old man that might have seen some of the problems you might have along the way.

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    • Hi There. As things get colder and wetter here, I find I am spending more time reading about gardening than doing gardening. Although I do have a couple of tomatoes tucked away in the greenhouse in the hopes of getting an unseasonal crop in them middle of the winter. Good luck with your idea. Cheers Sarah : o )

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  10. I am in the northern hemisphere, so it may seem a bit unfair for me to say I know what you mean as my first fruits are growing on several tomato plants – but I really do know what you mean! It’s hard for me to get back outside once the tomatoes drift into their decline. The most depressing for me are the shortened days…

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    • Hi there. I hate having to say goodbye to tomatoes at the end of the season – so much so that I try to grow them in the unheated greenhouse in the winter time! I noticed today that that there was a little green ball hanging off the plant where a flower once was… so exciting! Cheers Sarah : o )

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  11. Pingback: Heirloom Tomatoes: My Garden Darlings | Gardening Nirvana

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