Growing the Desert Garden

Welcome to the Desert Garden, with garden coach Tyler Storey, where we talk about everything having to do with gardening and landscaping in the Desert Southwest. From composting to Cercidium and agaves to arugula — we'll cover everything you want to know to grow your own beautiful Desert Garden.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Back at the Ranch: Tomato Harvest

First tomato © Tyler Storey

Tomatoes have been much in the news as of late, and none of the news has been good. It seems that we spend the better part of our childhood convinced that vegetables are bad for us, only to spend our adult years learning that we were right all along.

So here's a little something to cheer you up: the first tomato of the season. Yes, that beautifully misshapen blob of bright red tomato came out of the garden yesterday afternoon. And just in case you suspect that I might have hired a stand-in tomato, take a look again at the picture I posted in May of the first tomato to set fruit. Sure enough, the self-same tomato, now approximately 20 times larger; it grew to about 5 and one-half inches long.

It would have done well to spend just one more day on the vine, but rarely does the first tomato make it to full maturity here at the Ranch; the fact that it lasted long enough to be photographed was unprecedented. As you look to harvest tomatoes, wait until you're absolutely sure they're ripe — and then wait one more day. But do remember that things move fast in the Desert Garden, so don't wait too long. From fruit set to maturity, this tomato zipped along in 38 days, including a period of unusually cold and wet weather a couple of weeks ago.

There are many arguments in favor of home-grown vegetables, but one of the best is this: rarely if ever do they kill you. And, really, what more could you ask for in a vegetable?


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