Giveaway Winner & Toe-May-Toes

Marvel Stripe Bloody Butcher tomatoes
Marvel Stripe (yellow) and Bloody Butcher tomatoes (iPhone photo)

Our tomatoes finally started to ripen two weeks ago, which I view with no small amount of pride. It’s our first year experimenting with heirloom tomato varieties from Love Apple Farm, so there’s a bit of trial and error in our tomato-growing efforts compared to the commercial varieties we grew last year.

We’re learning the hard way, for example, that the Japanese Oxheart doesn’t like too much water, which causes the fruit to start rotting from the inside. So the daily 30-minute water bath we’ve been lavishing on this plant has been doing more harm than good. We’re also being taught that we need to add more fish meal and compost for the Love Apple and Marvel Stripe plants, which have yielded a few fruits that may have Blossom End Rot. I bet the Bloody Butcher wouldn’t mind some extra nourishment as well, as we transplanted it a lot later than the other plants and it currently looks a little delicate, despite the lush round fruits on its branches.

Love Apple Heirloom
The Love Apple Heirloom (iPhone photo)

If I sound a little disappointed about our tomatoes, perhaps you may be right. Growing heirlooms is a whole other business compared with your usual commercial variety vegetable, which have been bred to be disease-resistant. We can’t just plop them in the soil, set the timer for irrigation and wait for Nature to do its work. This time around, we’re being challenged to get to know our tomato plants a little better, to understand their water preferences, temperaments and vulnerabilities. We actually need to work for this crop, which is, in the process, making us better backyard tomato gardeners. Hopefully.

Our first crop of tomatoes have gone now, sliced and lightly tossed in good olive oil, salt and some basil leaves from our deck for a refreshing summer salad. The second crop is ripening on our kitchen counter right now, to be used in another salad which I’ll share with you later this week. For now, though, let’s talk seafood, shall we?

Heirloom Summer Squash
Another garden crop: a hefty Summer Squash (iPhone photo)

A big thank you to everyone who took the time to share your personal stories and memories around seafood for our latest giveaway. From poignant family and travel memories, to crabbing adventures and discovering what fish really tastes like, I thoroughly enjoyed reading every single one of your stories. It was hard to choose my favorite – I had six stories on my final list!! – but, in the end, there was one entry that had the elements of all the stories in one piece – sense of place, wonder, relationships, memory and taste:

Last summer, Dennis took me to the Outer Banks for the very first time to join his family for their annual summer trip. They have been doing the annual pilgrimage to North Carolina from Ohio for many years now. We lounged on the beach for a week and we went fishing, clamming and crabbing, too. It was the first time I ever caught a fish on a boat in the Atlantic. The first time I dug up clams in the Sound. And it was the first time I went crabbing. Blue crabs are much smaller than Dungeness but their flesh is so much sweeter. No need for butter! What made our blue crabbing trip so much more memorable was the fact that we crabbed on the same spot at the Oregon Inlet where Dennis, his brothers, and his dad crabbed many (many) years ago when the boys were little. It was magical. Everything was improvised. We used hooks and strings we bought from a Bait and Tackle Shop nearby. We used an empty soda bottle and filled it with seawater and tied the string around the bottle and used it to catch blue crabs with chicken as bait. A beautiful summer that will always be remembered fondly.

Jun Belen

Congrats Jun, you’ve won a $75 gift card from the good folks at i love blue sea! I’ll be in touch soon about how to claim your prize!


  1. I am so jealous that you can grow tomatoes. I tried for 10 years in the city; they never turn red. This is the first year that I didn’t even attempt it. Love the cute squash as well. They were delicious!

    ps… Kristina is very resourceful for heirloom tomatoes; they raise them and sell the seedlings at their farmer’s market. She would be a good resource for info on growing.

  2. El

    This is a beautiful post. I think a lot depends on soil too. Our old house was built on the site of a former chicken coop an needless to say anything we planted grew like crazy- even the heirlooms. It’s great that you’re spending the time to learn about and care for your vegetables. Can’t wait to see what you make with them.

  3. Danielle

    @Chez Us: SF is not exactly the most ideal environment for tomatoes! That said, you could look for varieties suited for cooler climates, Love Apple Farm has a good selection at their annual sale.

    @El: It absolutely depends on the soil. We have thick, clay soil, and even with compost and fish meal, it’s still very dense. Haven’t thought to do a soil test either which, in hindsight, should have been a first step. Note for next year I guess. Maybe we should start raising chickens for fertilizer!

  4. Pingback: Cous Cous with Cilantro Pesto & Halloumi | Beyond [the Plate]

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