True love and [organic] homegrown tomatoes

I had no idea there was a song by Guy Clark called "Homegrown Tomatoes" (I didn't even know who Guy Clark was) until I was researching YouTube for tips on how to start my vegetable garden. Then I learned "there's only two things that money can't buy and that's true love and homegrown tomatoes." The song/video is totally worth checking out by the way.

Black tomatoes fresh from the garden.

So this year was my first attempt at organic homegrown tomatoes. Everything from the soil, to the fertilizer, to the insecticide (diluted Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in a spray bottle) and of course the heirloom seeds...all organic. Even the containers I planted them in were reused -- that is, I planted them in some wood crates and plastic containers that my neighbors set out for the trash! How's that for green and thrifty?

I'll admit, going the all organic route takes patience. My tomatoes grew at about half the pace of my friends who started with plants from the store and doused them with Miracle Gro. With about five plants, I've only harvested 6 tomatoes so far. Not exactly what I had hoped for. I thought I would have so many tomatoes I'd be making and freezing pasta sauce for the winter. Okay, I guess that was a little too ambitious. Still, for my first time, I'm thrilled with the experiment.

The tomatoes we have harvested and eaten so far are black tomatoes, and they're delicious. The seeds insideThe seeds were planted in early March and the black tomatoes were ready by mid-August. are dark, hence the name. They're definitely more flavorful and unique than grocery store hot house varieties. We served them in a caprese salad with fresh homegrown organic basil and buffalo mozzarella.

I'm also growing Roma tomatoes. Still waiting, but one finally sprung up last week. Hoping a few more will follow.  

Next year, I'll apply some lessons learned. I'll plant more seedlings and do it even earlier since the seedlings stay nice and toasty sitting in my kitchen window. I'm also going to have much richer soil to use next year since I've started composting. If anyone has more tips on growing organic tomatoes, please share in the comments section.

NOTE: I wound up buying most of my tomatoes from produce stands that sell local produce (watch out for faux farm markets - not all produce stands sell local). What a difference it makes to eat fresh, local produce. I couldn't get enough tomatoes all summer long. If you haven't already, get out to your local farmers market before it's too late and experience the difference. And I definitely have a new found respect for organic farmers after growing my own.

FoodChel Rogersonfood