Last of the Summer Red
I continued my adventures with Capital Region Community Gardens this summer. I paid $30 and was assigned a small plot of earth on Schenectady’s Barney Street, a dead end stretch off Close Street in the city’s Vale Park neighborhood. Installed 20 tomato plants around Memorial Day, and watered and weeded my young greens through late spring into early autumn.
I’m bullish on tomatoes. I was not bullish on the early weather this growing season, as May and June rains kept my beefsteak bunch at bay. Tomatoes need sun and heat, and while there were some days that brought both to Barney Street, I think my guys needed more. Last year, my tomato plants in Albany grew so big they collapsed their wire cages.
I started picking around mid-August. My organically grown, pesticide-free — and occasionally spotted and cracked tomatoes — were sliced for cheeseburgers, salads and sauces. I cooked several batches of chili con carne, eliminating canned sauces and just tossing in about 20 big reds, and was surprised at the hearty and tasty difference.
Large sections of cardboard in the garden bed helped frustrate the weeds, but they’ve kind of solved the case. I’ve noticed more and more creeping out from under my barriers, but they’re late for the party. The plants are looking their ages, withered in some spots and wasted in others, and I suppose our first frost is not far away.
My yield was probably about 150 tomatoes. On Wednesday morning, I picked 16 more, all summer red and wet with morning dew. I’ve still got a few dozen baseball-sized green fruits on the vine ... so maybe a warm October sun will do me a favor.