July 4th is always our target date for picking our first fresh tomatoes of the season.
This year, we lucked out. We planted our tomatoes late — in early May, instead of late March or even April.
But a recent run of sunny days speeded up their ripening and sure enough, later today we’ll harvest what I’m sure will be the best tomatoes that we’ve ever tasted.
Of course the next time we pick them, they’ll once again be the best ever. As well as the time after that and the time after that… Truly, nothing beats a home-grown tomato in my book.
What’s interesting about our first tomatoes this year is that there are two very different varieties on the exact same schedule.
The first are Sweet 100s, which are not much of a surprise, since they’re cherries and always seem to ripen quickly, then produce forever.
But the other tomatoes are plump, medium-sized yellows on a volunteer plant.
Last year, we grew heirloom tomatoes in that bed, including two Yellow Pears.
Although I can’t find the remaining plant tags, I seem to remember the rest of the bed being comprised of Stupice, Carmelo and Black Prince, all in shades of medium to dark red, and all heirlooms as well.
Now the great thing about heirloom tomatoes — unlike modern hybrids — is that they’re true to seed. So future generations should bear like fruit.
So the big mystery is how plump yellows came to be. Since we grow our tomatoes shoulder-to-shoulder in raised beds, did our Yellow Pears somehow cross-pollinate with one of the other heirlooms? Or did a bird bring it in?
I may try to save some seed at the end of the season to see what results next year.
In the meantime, I’m more focused on what will be on our table tonight — perfectly delectable, perfectly sun-ripened, perfectly fresh tomatoes for the 4th of July.
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