Last week-end we got our tomatoes planted. It has been so cool and damp in Seattle that it does not make sense to put them in unless you use some type of protection for them.
We use two types of water cages to get them started. The soft red cages are filled with water and the day time air warms the water and insulates the plants at night. The white plastic cone shape cage is also filled with water forming an insulation to keep the small plants warm during the night.
My husband is in charge of planting the tomatoes and securing the soft red cages using 3 to 4 simple bamboo stakes to help hold each cage upright. The trick is when it is time to remove the cages, it is really a 2 man job so that you do not break the plants that have now grown, often above the top of the cages.
This year we planted 38 tomatoes, 17 are tomatoes that I will use to make sauce or use in cooking.
Varities for cooking Viva Italia, San Marzano roma and one labled just Roma. These tomatoes are also great for roasting until brown and soft but still juicy. They hold their shape beautifully.
The other tomatoes were a mix of good firm salad tomatoes like Early girl, beefsteak, flat on the top and bottom and Bush champion.
There are many new varities of Heirloom tomatoes most of which are open-pollinated, unlike the hybrids, which have to be artificially cross pollinated.
We went to several differnt places to find our mix of hybrids and heirloom plants. Some of the best for us last year were the Brandywine, Green Zebra, Black Russian, Hugh’s( a beautiful yellow) and a German Stripe, just to name a few. Tthere are hundreds of varities to choose from and each area has different types. Experiment, keep a log so next year you can choose the ones that work best in your garden.
Of course we have an assortment of cherry tomatoes in all colors of red, orange and yellow. Plus the shape of each little jewel makes the presentation better, they are sweet and the first to arrive making any salad bright.
I love to saute the cherry tomatoes with a bit of garlic. They always garnish a great grilled steak with the sweet flavor from just a few minutes of heat.
I will keep you updated as the tomatoes mature.