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Tomato Tales

August 23, 2010

A slightly rushed post, between coming home from one trip and heading off on another, but I’ve got a little time to waste before I head out again, so I might as well write something.

It’s not a good year for tomatoes. The outdoor gardeners are having big problems with late blight, after all the rain we had earlier this summer, and while my balcony garden was proctected from that, I’ve had big problems with bugs, mostly thrips.

Not exactly a great picture, but you can see how bare the lower parts of the vines are - I had to remove all those leaves because they were so badly thrips-damaged they were more brown than green.

They’re even ruining the fruit – all those yellow spots on the red currant tomatoes are thrips damage:

There’s another problem I have with them – they have a disgusting bitter aftertaste this year. Some of the other varieties do, too, though none of them quite to this extent. Since my best friend reported the same problem, we’re now wondering if it has to do with them getting too dry too often. I know that when we still had a garden, my strawberries often tasted slightly bitter when it was hot, too.

‘Gelbe Johannisbeere’ (‘Yellow Currant’) is finally doing all right, after germinating extremely late this year, though there are not nearly enough of them.

The supposed ‘Green Sausage’ is growing all right, without too many bugs, but I’m still not impressed. The bitter taste is not so strong in those, but they don’t exactly taste good, either. Kind of bland – I can get tomatoes like that at the supermarket, thanks.

The nameless hanging basket variety I bought at work ripened early, but now they’re being eaten by spider mites, and constantly complaining about being thirsty and hungry:

Also, lots of burst fruits, and the same bitter taste as the rest. And there are hardly any fruits left, and no more flowers. I don’t think I like determinate varieties – I’d rather lose a few fruits to low temperatures than running out of them by August.

The only variety that I’m really happy with this year is ‘Dattelwein’ (‘Date* Wine’). It’s one of the most popular and well-known heirloom varieties here (last year, one newspaper gave out plants to its readers and held a contest about who could get the most fruits from it), and the first I was really familiar with (during my summer job at an organic vegetable farm, years ago, I started off each day with picking these), so that every year, I say, ‘this is getting boring – everyone has ‘Dattelwein’ – I think I’ll stop growing it.’

But when I eat the first fruits, that thought is forgotten. Not only are there a lot of them, but they also taste good. Not even a hint of this bitter taste this year – at least one variety that I can eat without pulling a face.

They’re small, more-or-less pearshaped yellow fruits, sweet and juicy, growing in huge bunches.

This is a comparatively small bunch – on plants grown in the ground, with enough water and nutrients, they’re several times as big, with flowers, ripe and unripe fruits all mixed together. Picking them, at the farm, took quite a while, but I rather like tasks like that. Especially since I got to eat plenty while I worked, too.

And now it’s time to eat a few more, and then head off to Vienna.


* the fruit

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 24, 2010 20:40

    I wish I could tell you why they taste bitter, but I’m clueless. What a bummer, though, I’m sorry for your sad tomatoes.


  1. Tomato Tales, Part 2 « Letters & Leaves

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