Gold medal tomatoes

June 23, 2016
first tomato!
First tomato of 2016!

I just ate my first tomato of the season.  In June.

June!

For some gardeners, eating a tomato in June is no big thing.  I’m pretty sure my friend Jenny of Rainy Day Optimism started eating her homegrown tomatoes in May.  But here on the northern Oregon coast, just a mile and a half from the Pacific Ocean, getting ripe tomatoes in June is almost unheard of.  Heck, even the tomatoes I planted in the farm’s greenhouse haven’t ripened yet!

The winning plant is a Sun Gold (F1) hybrid, grown in my backyard raised bed.  I think the trick was that I kept it on my windowsill for two months before planting it out in late May.  That, the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having and the fact that it’s a hybrid cherry tomato all played a huge part in this early harvest.

ripe tomatoes
Sun Gold tomatoes win the tomato race here on the Oregon coast!

When I lived in sunny, hot Roseburg (pretty much the banana belt of western Oregon) I grew mainly heirloom tomatoes.  Nice big Brandywines, Green Zebras and Oxhearts.  They sometimes grew so big it would take two hands to hold a single fruit!  I grew hybrids and cherries as well, but never treated them with nearly as much respect as the heirlooms.  They were sort of the afterthought of the garden, stuck in where I could find space.

Oh, it was so easy to be a tomato snob down there!

When we moved back to the Oregon coast, I tried my hardest to keep growing my heirloom favorites, but the weather just wasn’t warm enough and the season wasn’t long enough.  The large fruits I wanted wouldn’t grow and I’d be left with tiny and hard green tomatoes in October.  I found though, low and behold, that if I focused my efforts on cherries, grapes, currants and  other smaller-sized hybrid tomatoes, I could usually be eating them by late July or early August.

I obviously won’t be giving up on the big heirlooms.  The small tomatoes are great for snacking and salads, but really don’t come close to comparing in taste or versatility.  I will, however, probably stick to growing them in the greenhouse, where they can be warm and dry long enough to really come into their own.

green tomatoes.jpg
Green tomatoes getting ripe!

Seriously, though!  June!  I’m in a pleasant state of shock.

And in case you were wondering: Yes, that little Sun Gold tomato was delicious!

5 Comments

  • arlingwoman

    June 23, 2016 at 10:37 pm

    What a gorgeous harvest! And those sun golds are tasty. I like the little salad tomatoes as well as the slicers. Yum!

  • MyDandelionMind

    June 23, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    Sungold is definitely one of the best for taste. Its what I’m growing again this year. Will be a little while til we get anything edible though 🙂

  • mark

    June 25, 2016 at 5:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story about Una in the Daily A. Barley, a 13 yr old border collie is napping as I type. The passing of time, the enduring qualities that dogs give us….your writing captured this so well. thanks again.

    1. sproutandsprig

      June 25, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      Thank you! I’m so glad you enjoyed it, and give Barley a pet from me 🙂

  • The Garden in May – sprout & sprig

    May 25, 2017 at 4:42 pm

    […] the first tomatoes, which are maybe a month away.  I’m 99% sure the winners will be the Sungolds again this year.  We also have Indigo Cherry Drops, Brandywines, Cuore Di Bues, San Marzanos, […]

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