Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Great Tomato Cleanup

It is with mixed feelings that I take down our tomato plants. These 13 plants--five different varieties--have been extremely good to us, keeping us in tomatoes every day for months. In fact, they are still making tomatoes, still blossoming, still sending up new growth. But the days grow short and the nights cold. It is time to clear the beds and move on to the next thing.

We compost just about everything around our home here in the District of Columbia. We send very little to the landfill. But I do not compost tomato plants. We live in a perfect climate for various tomato diseases and our plants invariably pick up one sort of wilt or another. I don't want to introduce those diseases to our compost pile. Instead, I take great care to cut the tomato plants into small pieces, bag them and put them out with the trash. I wish it weren't so, but I can't think of another way. One tomato guru even sanitizes his metal tomato cages each season with a blow torch.

I collected another bowl this size with ripe or ripening tomatoes. These green tomatoes--many pounds of them--will make more of our favorite green tomato and apple chutney, perhaps a green tomato jam. There may even be a fried green tomato BLT in our future. These are some of the joys of fall's Great Tomato Cleanup.


3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the suggestion about keeping the old tomatoes out of the compost pile. We're going to pull up our tomatoes this weekend and live in DC too. Did you plant anything in the tomato patch for the winter? Any ideas? I'd like use our empty space if possible, but am not sure starting seeds this time of year will yield anything for the winter. (We already have lots of other greens, but started them about 8 weeks ago.)

Ed Bruske said...

Anonymous, time for you to get a Blogger identity, or leave your name.

Lettuces, spinach, brassicas--they all love to germinate in these cooler temperatures, although at some point you may need to cover them with a cold frame or a plastic tunnel.

NOLAGringa said...

Also fun with green tomatoes: green tomato cake. http://nolagringa.blogspot.com/2008/01/green-tomato-cake.html

I like taking it to potlucks and making everybody guess what the mystery ingredient is. Nobody ever guesses and they get much more aware of their food through the process.

And it's so yummy!

Just saw my first tomatoes setting on the vines today - thank goodness I'm in the south and will have a couple months to enjoy now.