To every thing there is a season,
And a time to every purpose under the heaven;
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…
Finally, tomato time is here on First Fruits Farm! After a rather strange warm spell in early spring, seems like the real warming has just started, and we know from US agricultural zone maps it’s finally safe to plant tomatoes. And planting has taken place: about 20 volunteers came out and planted about 1100 Mountain Fresh tomato plants, and 1500 green bell pepper plants. The plants are the gift of Kevin Fabula, who grows them with the intention of donating to triple F (that’s the insider’s jargon for First Fruits Farm, so now you’re an insider, too). God bless both Kevin and the multitude of volunteers for getting all these plants in the ground, just in time for abundant rain.
Let’s talk a bit more about the tomato itself, the Mountain Fresh variety. Mr. Dan (that’s Dan Millender, one of the farm’s main men), says this particular variety is practical because when it’s ripe it retains firmness, so the tomato can be transported in good shape to the Maryland Food Bank and all the other destinations where hungry people are fed. It can get to be about a pound in weight, so could be used for a tomato sandwich. Mr. Dan confides that his favorite tomato sandwich is on lightly toasted white bread with bacon. lettuce and mayo. My own favorite is on toasted to within an inch of being burned whole grain bread with mayo, Vidalia onion and fresh pepper. What’s your favorite? We’d love to hear.
The tomato plants may be strung up this coming Memorial Day weekend. Stakes will be placed on either side of the plants and string tied to the stakes. As the plants grow they will remain upright so the fruits don’t trail on the ground and rot. Before staking, though, one more pass through the rows to turn up the ground and discourage weeds will be made.
And speaking of rot, that’s always a concern when we’ve gotten as much rain as we have lately, all at once. Mr. Dan says he’d rather have more rain than less, though, and so far the potatoes, planted several weeks ago, are doing just fine. This year about 80% of the seed has germinated. And both corn and beans have germinated and are growing fast. Praise the Lord!
– Elizabeth Tracey