Heirloom tomatoes: At last!

Diener heirloom tomato

At last!

From a tiny seed

Yesterday I read on the Internets (so take this with a grain of salt) that you can speed tomato ripening by pinching off new flowers. While this curtails additional fruit production, it apparently gives the plant the boost it needs to ripen fruit. Since the heirlooms have become the locus of my anger management strategy, I happily snapped off their pretty flowers.

"Take that, you Jolly Green Giant, you producer of tough, meconium-colored fruit." And that!"

Snap. "You bearer of baseballs, You grower of smug, organic relish. Come fall you'll be compost!" Snap.

Anyway, made me feel better.

Above, you'll see a plant in total compliance. It's impossible to capture the sheer size of this acorn squash, which now threatens to invade the front yard. It's producing perfect curcurbits at an impressive rate. This is a plant, which knows how to please.

We're dreaming of warm squash soups and satisfying purees, though there's nothing like a piping hot, butter-and-maple-syrup-baked squash with a splash of bourbon.

Except a warm-from-the-garden tomato freckled with pepper.

Farm Report: How green was my garden

Cherokee Purple Pole Tomatoes

Because this is Colorado, we spend the year eating California tomatoes that taste like wallpaper paste, wet, pink and mealy. So it is with great hope, anticipation and faith in the future that we plant tomatoes hoping to stack our sandwiches and punctuate our salads with the warm, salty taste of homegrown fruit.

We have enjoyed a blissful summer. Our neighborhood mercifully escaped the shredding hail that made coleslaw of my mother's roses and hammered farms and gardens across the Front Range. Mornings have been so temperate and cool that I don a sweatshirt most days to chase the morning chill. Rain has fallen regularly and like a benediction, fattening our yellow squash and prompting unprecented production from the usually recalcitrant basil plants.

But the tomatoes...our Roma's leaves have withered and yellowed as it squeezes out its sparse, small offerings. The slicers--finally--are trending a wan red. Tomatoes hang everywhere, like fat green moons, taunting us with their firm, verdant flesh.

The heirlooms are particularly egregious. All giant and viney and self-righteous, started as seeds by a neighbor, so ultra local and organic...and green!

Look at them. The Cherokee Purple Pole, Diener and Amy's Sugar Gem. They look like they're smiling, their round, olive faces mocking Mitch's efforts not to water too much or too little, to tether their wildness to stakes, allowing just that much new light to touch their shiny flanks.


Meanwhile, we wait.