Backyard tomato is a summertime treat

One of the joys of summer is a fresh, juicy, vine-ripe tomato, preferably from a plant in your own backyard.

One of the joys of summer is a fresh, juicy, vine-ripe tomato, preferably from a plant in your own backyard.

The possibilities are legion—sliced and layered between two pieces of white bread, coated with mayonnaise and sprinkled with ample amounts of salt and pepper; sliced as accompaniment to any vegetable dish; eaten as is, with salt and pepper (napkin is useful to wipe the juice from your chin); chopped and added to other fresh vegetables to create a mouth-watering vegetable soup; or chopped, juiced or pureed and frozen for wintertime enjoyment.

I was restricted to four plants this year, at my wife’s request since last year’s seven or eight vines tended to overrun the small space available in the backyard. I may need to pare back a bit more next year since I can’t tell much difference between the area occupied by four plants and that taken over by six last year.

Pat also suggested tomato cages, which were quickly overrun by vigorous vines. Attempts to bring order to the overzealous plants with twine and stakes have failed miserably.

I tried some new varieties, including one called “Pink Girl,” a medium-sized tomato with a sweet flavor and a lighter color. It’s kinda hard to tell when it’s ripe. A Better Boy is producing the largest tomatoes, softball-sized fruit with good acidity and excellent taste. It’s perfect for tomato sandwiches—one slice is usually adequate.

Another variety is smaller in stature, better-behaved and fairly well contained in its cage and twine enclosure. I may plant more of those next year. The tomatoes are quite good, though not as large as the Better Boys.

I harvested more than a dozen from these four vines yesterday, to go with the dozen or so I had harvested earlier in the week. Another dozen joined them this morning. Pat needs to get busy chopping and freezing tomatoes. Or if y’all need some, just drop by the house.

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