Week 5: Tomato Blight History

It's tomato season. Expect to see lots of tomatoes for a while! We'll try to keep you equipped with different types of recipes and ideas for them, to keep it interesting. We grow only heirloom tomatoes, which I think are just the best. But you might see some regular red tomatoes too from time to time. 

Tomatoes. On many farms in this region, the tomato crop can make or break the season. They are just SO good, so plentiful, and with such eager eaters. On the farm I first worked on, where I learned to farm, tomatoes were the name of the game. We spent our entire season thinking about tomatoes. In February, March, and April in the greenhouse. In May and June, transplanting them into the fields--three successions, covering perhaps a third of the farm. And then we mulched, staked, and strung them up, tying and twirling tomato plants to tame them. And then July through October, finally, we picked. And picked, and picked tomatoes nearly every day. At the first frost, we were glad to be through.

This was 10 years ago. Since then, the Late Blight disease appeared (cause of the Great Potato Famine) and, in recent years, has often led to a quick end to the tomato season as well as a great deal of worry and conversation among tomato growers. To me, it feels like a real risk to plant tons of tomatoes out in the open field like we did in years past. So, this season, I built a hoophouse--a covering for the tomatoes--with only two rows of tomatoes under it, which feels like hardly any at all. But I expect those few plants to be more productive and bear all season, protected from disease-spreading rain. So far, so good: The plants are green and tall, and we're picking as many tomatoes from that tiny patch as we ever did last year.