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Mid Season Tomato Checklist

Posted Aug 23 2008 3:10pm

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Flavor is probably the best reason for selecting a tomato for kitchen garden growing. Once you have identified your favorite tomato (or tomatoes), the memory of that fruit's flavor will easily get you started in spring and keep you going until harvest year after year. Getting to know new tomatoes and their tastes will bring added pleasure to kitchen gardening. Visiting farm markets and tasting peak-season, just-picked tomatoes each summer is the best way to come up with your short list of tomatoes to grow next year.

To get you started on your taste and tomato growing odyssey, here's a mid summer tomato tasting checklist. You will find many of these tomatoes at farmers' markets and farm stores in mid summer. Of course, taste is not the sole criteria for selecting tomatoes. Use is often of equal importance, slicing, cooking, and preserving for example. Perhaps you need a sauce or paste tomato that is great tasting; not every great tasting tomato will do.

Tomatoes that come to harvest in mid summer are known as mid-season or main-crop tomatoes. Mid-season tomatoes are ready for harvest about 70 to 80 days after being transplanted into the garden. (Most transplants get a 6 to 8 week head start in the greenhouse or under cover before going into the garden.) In the northern hemisphere, mid season tomatoes are at their peak harvest in August.

Mid season tomatoes are appropriate choices in regions where the growing season is relatively short to middling in length, where the night temperatures and even daytime temperatures are likely to turn cool to chilly in September. Late-season tomatoes, which come to harvest more than 80 days after transplanting, are good choices for long-growing season regions. (Early-season tomatoes are best for very short northern growing seasons or where summer's are cool such as near the ocean.)

In this starter's checklist, some of the work is done for you. Size is indicated: small salad-size tomatoes are usually in the 2 to 3 ounce category; midsize slicing, paste, sauce, and cooking tomatoes are usually 4 to 8 ounces; and large slicing and juicing tomatoes weigh in at 9 ounces and greater. (There are a few tomatoes that weigh in excess of a pound or more, and these you will take to the county fair.)

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