May 10, 2011

First Tomatoes

Over the last week, while I have been holed up inside, the tomatoes were starting in the vegtable garden. I wasn't sure whether the title of this post fit, because the tomatoes are not ripe yet, but early signs of the deliciousness to come is something to celebrate. Pictured below is 'Smarty' Grape Tomato, a purchase from my local plant indulgence, Fairview Garden Center.

The 'Mountain Fresh' Tomatoes are also producing small green fruits, but they will take much longer to mature into large red slicing tomatoes.  This little powerhouse pictured below is the only hybrid of my tomatoes, and has been producing huge yellow flowers for weeks now. A product of the NC State University breeding program, this is part of the 'Mountain series' which touts disease and crack-resistant fruits with a great taste. Ive grown 'Mountain' tomatoes for 3 seasons now, and they are always the most prolific producers. It has about the best taste I've had for a hybrid, and although it might not taste quite as good as the heirlooms, I grew 3 plants of this variety because its perfect for canning and makes an amazing salsa. Plus I love growing a local variety, that way I know its going to preform well in the North Carolina heat.


The tomatoes are filling out nicely. You can see my original plant list on my Preparing the Vegtable Bed Post, although I've swayed only a bit..  For tomatoes I'm growing 2 'Green Zebras', 3 'Mountain Fresh', 1 'Smarty Grape', 2 'Black Krim', and 1 unknown heirloom that was in the 'Black Krim' seed packet which looks to be 'Brandywine' or 'German Johnson'. I just couldn't resist planting it to see what it was. I also added some Italian oregano and lemon grass at the far end.


The larger cages in the picture above were a great find, left by the previous homeowner and obviously handmade from fencing. At 6 feet tall they are about they best support you could ask for. You will also notice the marigolds scattered throughout the vegetable bed. Although I'm not a huge fan of the marigold look (too common perhaps) they do bring some amazing benefits. Besides being deer resistant, they help keep aphids away and their roots secrete toxins that help treat soil nematodes that are harmful to vegetables. I figure its worth the 6 bucks for a couple six packs!

Holy hops! The hops are growing fast, and since I took this picture a couple days ago, the 'Centennial' hop vines have already met in the middle of the grape trellis. They grow 4-6 inches a day right now, and should set cones within a month, hopefully, otherwise the heat will start to stunt them. The dill is also going crazy. I use fresh herbs almost every day in cooking, I can always find a way to make them fit, but I still grow too much. Good think a couple friends joined me to help eat the dill. I expect the swallowtails to come every year, so I plant a few extra dill seeds to share.


To add a little color, the chives added some blooms. The first is beginning to open, but there are signs of more to come. I probably use these the most of all my herbs, as the onion taste works with all types of dishes.

So begins the summer vegetable garden. I wonder how long until my little green tomatoes will be ripe enough for a salad...

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."  ~George Washington Carver


  1. Your tomato bed looks very nice and your plants look happy. You will get lots of tomatoes this year, I'm betting. I've heard hops will take over the world when they start growing! It will be interesting to see how much yours grows.

  2. That's exciting that your first tomatoes are out! Ours are still in seedling form here in zone 7A. I'm growing Black Krim this year too. I've never grown these before. Have you? I've read they have a naturally salty taste.

  3. "Mountain Fresh" - the moniker makes me wonder if it's suitable for high altitude gardening. I'm going to look into it.

  4. Can I ask about your hops? Are they newly-planted this year, or are they a few years old? I've often wondered how large they would get their first year in the ground. Also, when you say the heat will "stunt" them, do they just slow down growing, or do they start to suffer? I need a vine that will look good in the heat and humidity. Thanks!

  5. Bumble Lush - It's my first time trying them too! I heard about the salty taste and that's what got me to try them.

    Alan - Those hops are 3 years old, we have to prune them back to only 2 bines per string. They grow vigorously until it gets hot, and then slow down a bit and bush out more, but they still look fine. The heat in our area stunts the cone development, so the earlier they flower the better. They grew just as tall the first year, only with less shoots coming up, and you do need to cut them back in winter.


Thanks for taking a walk in our garden.
Your comments are always appreciated.