Monday, May 24, 2010

That first hint of summer

There is no doubt that as you get older the years speed up. Sometimes it is hard to comprehend how fast time flies.

There is one exception to that rule. Time moves slowly when waiting for that first home grown tomato of the season. Of course the wait is a lot longer in some places than it is others.

I have grown tomatoes in Canada's Maritimes, in Virginia's mountains, and in few spots in North Carolina. In Nova Scotia, we were lucky out on the shores of the Bay of Fundy to get tomatoes by the end of August. The inland Annapolis Valley did much better at tomatoes. In New Brunswick on our farm north of Frederiction, we could expect to see tomatoes in early to mid-August.

Moving south, we found that our tomatoes in Roanoke, Virginia would ripen sometime after the Fourth of July, but they often did not make it until the second or third week of July. My mother grew many tomatoes in North Carolina's Piedmont. There you were considered a good gardener if you could produce a ripe tomato by the Fourth.

When we moved to the Carolina coast the equation changed drastically. On June 1, 2008, I recorded a ripe tomato and easily crushed my fellow competitors in the annual tomato contest. Last year, it took a little longer, but we still had tomatoes before the first week in June was out.

This year I took a risk and put my tomato plants in the ground on March 24. Yesterday I was rewarded with my first ripe tomatoes. They are the cherry type, but what this has taught me is that I should probably move the location of my early plants so that they get more sun.

I am still expecting to have ripe sandwich size tomatoes in a week or so. That is about three months early compared to Nova Scotia. Of course a lot will depend on the weather. If we get some good hot days, we will be in good shape.

This time of year hot weather is a good thing. It allows us to get out on the river, walk the beaches, and grow some great homegrown tomatoes.