It is spring, and my tomatoes are in the ground

Submitted by OcracokeWaves on Mon, 03/19/2012 - 23:03.

If you are living in the South and not taking advantage of the great gardening weather, you are missing a big part of what makes life here so special.

Just a little gardening can make you feel like a native Southerner.

There are few things that I enjoy more than a tomato sandwich made with one of my own homegrown tomatoes. 

I grew up with my mother growing unbelievably tasty tomatoes around our house near Lewisville, North Carolina.  Mother was still growing tomatoes well into her eighties when she lived on Pine Street in Mount Airy, NC.

I have faced some really challenging tomato climates in my life.  The north shore of Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley barely had enough heat to produce tomatoes by September.

When we moved to New Brunswick, we found more heat, and tomatoes that could reliably be counted on to ripen by the second or third week of August.  They also seemed to have more flavor than our Nova Scotia tomatoes.

We picked up a good month when we moved to our mountainside in Roanoke Virginia.  We often got tomatoes by the beginning of the second week in July. Unfortunately the deer population in the mountains of Virginia eventually made it impossible to grow tomatoes.

The real game changer was moving to North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks.  In 2008 I got a ripe tomato on June 1, and my first ripe tomato was June 5 in 2009.

Living on the North Carolina coast has made the first week of June a reliable date for our first of the season of tomatoes.  This year my plants are in the ground the earliest ever, and they are considerably bigger than they were last year when I planted them.

However, I have backed down from almost fifty plants to only eight.  At least that is all I have in the ground so far this year.  Last year we had a cornucopia of tomatoes.  I believe we picked over one hundred one day at the peak of the season.

I will be very happy if we can manage a May tomato.  Growing tomatoes in the South is not very difficult, but it is very rewarding.  We live off of tomato sandwiches during the summer, and we often enjoy them well into December.

Submitted under: