Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Back in tomato-land

The last time we grew tomatoes on a large scale was in the summer of 2007. I hated every second of it

I can't remember if I knew it at the time, but I spent that entire tomato season pregnant with the very beginnings of Miss Pepper and the morning sickness was awful.

I remember crawling up and down the rows of tomato plants on my hands and knees gagging at the intense tomato smell. I remember being repulsed at the wet, tomato condensation dripping off the roofs of the poly tunnels and onto my head and down my neck and into my clothes. And that black tomato gunk that stains your fingers and cannot be washed off almost threw me over the edge. Yuk!

We picked thousands and thousands of heirloom tomatoes that year. Tomatoes of every shape and variety and colour. But I'm pretty certain I did not even eat one.

Since that summer, for almost the whole of Miss Pepper's life, I've avoided the strong smelling, super flavoursome, summer treats. Until last year. Last year we bought five big boxes of tomatoes from our friend Florian to preserve. It was like an intermediate step. We didn't grow them, but they were local and organic and smelled out my kitchen for a few March weeks.

And then about six months ago I found myself doing an interview for a magazine article answering a question about my gardening goals. I wrote that my gardening goals were to grow enough tomatoes to last us the whole year long. Some to eat fresh, some to semi dry and some to preserve as sauce and as passata for the rest of the year.

And that was that, it was no sooner written than decided. We were back in the tomato growing business again.

We sowed the seeds, when they were big enough we planted them in the ground, we fertilised them, we irrigated them, we pricked out the extra growth, we trellised them and now we're picking them.

For the past few weeks every tomato that's been picked has been eaten that very same day. Until today. Today we had enough to eat and to mix up with garlic and olive oil and to oven dry. They'll be jarred up tomorrow morning in olive oil. Deeeeeeelicious.

I am so grateful that we've had a hot, sunny summer this year to ripen my reds and I am getting more and more hopeful that I will realise my gardening goal. Or at least get close.

It feels great to be back in tomato-land, even if I can't wash that stinky, black stuff off my hands and arms.

I say tomato, you say ??

Happy last day of summer for tomorrow peeps!
Can you believe it?
Are you ready for it?
Have you got a gardening goal?
Care to share?



  1. Your tomatoe land looks lovely, Miss Pepper looks very much at home. I grow tomatoe every year (only in a small green house) but cannot touch them, they give off something that makes me ill. Yet every year I grow them again!! Completely irrational. To top it off I'm the only one in the house that doesn't eat them. The magical powers of tomatoe growing!! Sarah

  2. Love your goals..... that was my goal this year as well but lack of water stuffed that up. Two out of 15 survived. Not enough water in tank to hand water. I'll try and find some to buy......

  3. Today I counted a grand total of 8 green tomatoes growing on my three sad bushes. I'm glad someone out there is holding the tomato-growing torch high!

  4. I am sitting here looking at my tomato seed packets and itching to get started in the greenhouse. A couple more weeks and the sowing will begin. The photos are so lovely and make me long for the time when I can do the same...a few months yet! Take care. Chel

  5. I love the pictures!!! This summer I'm going to do the same!! I one a garden full of veggies. I don't have a really big space like you but I one some herbs and others things!!Do you have any kind of recommendation for a small space??
    warm regards!!

  6. Gorgeous tomatoey pics! I'm busy making tomato sauces etc to see us through but sadly not with toms from our garden - that's next summer's goal!! Farewell summer and welcome autumn....

  7. I grew tomatoes for the first time EVER this year...out on the balcony. It's really really hard...they got budworm AND blossom end rot and I over-pruned them and thought I had killed them. They came back though and we've had a good like haul from them. One thing I cannot stand the smell of is basil...I grow it but the smell makes me get a headache. Weird, I know.

  8. I would have tomatoes right now if my bushes had have been watered wile I was away for seven weeks waiting for baby to come. At least we're not paying thirteen dollars a kilo for them like we were before summer (and that's not even for organic!). I most definitely have a gardening goal right now, and that is to grow garlic! the garlic available here is so tragic it's rotten or sprouting before you even buy it. I've gotten friends to source me a couple of heads from the organic market in the city and I pick them up next weekend :)
    Yay for getting over your tommy aversion! Where is the black stuff from? I've never had it before.

  9. I love growing tomatoes! But my favourite thing to grow are beet roots and radishes :-)
    It certainly doesn't feel like summer is going anywhere soon - it's hotter than ever here today! I'd like a bit more rain before the wet season leaves :-)

    Sarah x

  10. I love the smell of tomato plants. My four (I know, a bit pathetic) are all looking horribly sickly and I'm hoping the still-green fruit ripen before the plants succumb to whatever ails them.

  11. Oh yes! My baby boy calls them lollies and eats them straight off the plant...
    again, I would love to know how you store your produce and how long for!!!!

  12. These photo's are amazing and so vivid. I am not a tomato girl (mourn) my body just want allow it except if there out of a pasta jar or smeared on a pizza base. And, how gorgeous is your little girl - so cute. xxx

  13. :) Mine is to grow basil so we can make pesto whenever we want and not have to waste any...we planted some a couple of weeks ago...and it's actually growing...AND THRIVING! so pesto here we come!

  14. Last year we had a bumper crop! About a kilo a day which isn't bad for 3 plants. I ate tomatoes 3 times a day, couldn't get enough! But when they started piling up I'd just pop them in a container in the fridge & during winter I used them in stews & curries- they were great!

    This year was a disaster :( Perth was a little confused with the weather before Xmas & then we had heat wave after heat wave so I gave up.

    Next summer I'll try again :)

  15. It's always great to be able to eat your own produce! It feels so much healthier and tastes often so much better compared to the store-bought veggies! I'm not much of a tomato fan and I do not have many room (lets say none) to grow my own vegetables except spring onions in the windowsill but they are lovely :)

  16. Your tomatoes look amazing Kate...worth waiting for! Great photos, love Pepper with the colander on her head. My gardening goal is for a productive autumn/winter. I am working hard on getting my timing right...plant too early and it might get hot again, plant too late and might be too cold!

  17. Hi there, firstly I do love reading your blog, secondly my name is Kate too and I also live rural but on the mid north coast NSW, also I have noticed you have become friends online with some very good friends of mine at Old Mill Road lastly I love love tomatoes - i love making chutney, kasundi, sauces etc but one of my very favourite easy things to do with tomatoes is to fry up some garlic, add some cooked pasta, then throw in a pile of chopped tomato, fresh basil, olives and maybe even a bit of feta, a quick stir and yum, one of my favourite foods. Happy days!! All the best, Kate


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