Fruits (and Vegetables) of Your Labors – Vol. 6 – 16th St. Heights

The reader writes:

“Tomatoes coming in nicely. From my 16th st heights backyard. For perspective, this plant is 4.5 feet tall. Now if I can keep the squirrels away I will be all set.”

Looks great!

So this reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask – do the different types of tomatoes taste differently? I usually add balsamic vinegar and salt so I don’t have the most refined taste. And what’s the deal with heirloom tomatoes – do they taste differently as well?

If your garden has been kind to you, send a couple of photos with your neighborhood to princeofpetworth(at)gmail with Fruits (and Vegetables) of Your Labors in the subject line.

13 Comment

  • We’ve been having luck keeping squirrels away from our garden using a motion-activated sprinkler.

  • Only one way to find out– invite all these urban gardeners to your place for a tomato tasting!

  • claire

    Yes! Different types of tomatoes do taste different . . . for one, I find that heirloom tomatoes have a lot more flavor. For another, there are varying levels of acidity and sugar – red tomatoes are high acid and low sugar while yellow are low acid and high sugar and purple (my favorite!) are medium acid and varying levels of sugar. I would highly recommend buying one each of some different varieties at a farmers’ market and doing a tasting to see which is your favorite!

  • Dried blood will keep the squirrels away!! I know, it sounds really gross, but you can pick up a bag at Fragers over on capitol hill. Just sprinkle some in the soil and they’ll stay away.

  • bfinpetworth

    Something I’ve noticed lately about heirlooms, however. I first tasted an heirloom tomato about 10 years ago up in New England and was blown away by the taste. Some were sweet, some were salty, but all had intense flavor.

    Now, however, when I get an heirloom tomato at Whole Foods, for instance, the flavor is lacking. I’m wondering if there are people developing new varieties of tomatoes that LOOK like heirlooms (i.e. color variations) but have the resistance to disease of the typical grocery store tomatoes that taste like cardboard. I think they are fooling people…

    On the other hand, good tomatoes bought at a farmer’s have that intense flavor that can’t be beat.

    • claire

      I think this has to do with when the tomatoes are picked. Tomatoes that are taken off the vine while still green and then later ripened (this is the standard for most grocery store tomatoes) have significantly less flavor than those that are allowed to ripen on the vine.

      • This is true!

        Many heirloom varieties have amazing flavor. Like most of us, I grew up not really liking tomatoes that much because all I ever knew were the dull, tasteless supermarket varieties. The resurgence of heirloom varieties has changed that. You gotta give ’em a try.

      • Absolutely right. There is no substitute for FRESH and ripe off the vine.

        POP – on your second question, there is no “heirloom taste” that separates them from hybrid varieties. It’s just that if you want to have a big variety of flavors, colors, textures in your ‘maters, you often end up with a lot of heirloom breeds. I don’t think they’re “better” than hybrids, which often have better disease resistance and are good producers. But if you love wacky tomatoes like I do heirloom catalogs are a goldmine.

        Also, if you are interested in saving seeds and replanting them, it will only work with heirloom varieties. Seeds from hybrids will not produce the same variety they came from.

    • saf

      “when I get an heirloom tomato at Whole Foods”

      That’s your problem. Store produce will never be as good as farm market/farm stand produce. It’s too far removed from the field.

    • I heard an NPR piece in the last month that interviewed a tomato grower. His quote? “I don’t get paid for flavor.”

      To PoP’s point, as many have pointed out, there is a different flavor to these things, but you know what is good eats? A garden-ripe tomato of any color/size. I grow a variety of plants and this time of year, whatever comes out of the garden goes straight into tomato salad or salsa. The more colors, the prettier it looks on the plate. Just make sure you cut the pieces all to the same size.

  • Re: Anon 2
    Gardener here.Thanks for the advice. What kind of blood should I ask for?
    The squirrels have taken to taunting me by leaving half eaten tomatoes on the fence and deck.

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