Heirloom Tomato Salad
Slice tomatoes 3/8-inch thick, crosswise. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve.
Sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Garnish with basil leaves and fennel blossoms. Serve outdoors. Close your eyes while eating, focusing on the taste of summer and the buzzing of the yellow jackets.
Add some super-ripe sliced peaches.
Whoever came up with the combination of peaches and tomatoes is a genius. My favorite garden quote from Gardens Illustrated (paraphrased) by Frank Ronin is, “… anything done in the garden in August should include alcohol and partial nudity.” I’d like to add feasting on heirloom tomatoes to the list, because I don’t think I’ll be combining the first two in the garden anytime soon.
Basil blossoms are edible, although the texture leaves something to be desired. This goes for the fennel flowers, too. The pollen is desirable, however, so give those blossoms a shake over your salad for an Italian flair.
- Heirloom tomatoes are open-pollinated varieties, passed down from generation to generation. Old-fashioned, misshapen, and ornery, they can be a challenge to grow. However, we are undeterred, for their taste is that of summer.
- Plant seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before last expected frost.
- Harden off 5-7 days before planting outside.
- Plant seedlings outside when night temps are above 55 degrees F.
- Add a shovelful of compost to the planting hole.
- Add a handful of rock phosphate and a ½ cup of wood ashes.
- Plant the root ball deep, 4 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart.
- Water immediately after planting.
- STAKE: 7-8’ posts, prune to 1 leader and tie to stake as plant grows.
- CAGE: More but smaller fruit, no pruning. Use reinforcing wire.
- SPRAWLING: Spread dry brush or straw under plants to prevent rot and damage.
- STRINGING: Set posts every 4’, then basket weave string along row and prune to 2 leaders or make a top cross piece and string at each tomato, pruning to 1 leader.
- Hill soil up around plant when weeding.
- Apply mulch after soil has warmed.
- Pinch off side shoots every 7-10 days, as directed under staking.
- Regular, deep, and even watering is required for best tasting fruit.
- Sink juice bottle into ground to get water to lower roots.
- Hold back watering when fruits begin to ripen.
- Make comfrey liquid fertilizer and apply when flowers appear.
- Follow all of the above to avoid the plague.
- Pinch off any diseased leaves.
- Companion plant with basil, marigolds, dill and garlic.
- Harvest fruit when fully ripe.
- Fruits do not need sun to ripen on the plant.
- Before first frost, pull whole plant and hang indoors.
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