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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Red Slices of Yummy

From the vine to the tummy. You might remember my concern for the first two "Fresh Market" variety tomatoes hanging prettily from the vine a little over a week ago. I mentioned I would feel like I had successfully grown a tomato if they actually were harvested before any critters did any damage AND I could actually eat them. Mind you I have harvested several of the smaller "patio" variety and eaten them steadily. For me, there was just something about growing a normal sized tomato that seemed necessary.

We are happy to report those very two beauties (above photo) made it to the table. Promptly slicing up these red lovelies and eating every single bite in one lunch sitting my mind kept repeating, "now THIS is how a tomato is supposed to taste!" The delicious, sweet flavor and firm consistency instantly conjuring up memories of childhood days round my grandmother's dinner table. She was the type that always had more food than the number of folks at the table could possibly consume. Included in every meal were sliced tomatoes adorning their very own plate and her pickled beets to accompany in their very own glass bowl. Always the same plate; always the same bowl. No matter what else was being served for dinner there were dishes of her homemade sweet pickles and scrumptious fresh veggies served along with the meat, potatoes and biscuits. I particularly loved cucumbers drenched in vinegar so she managed to have a dish of them set out on her southern-laden table. If only I'd have paid attention when she was canning tomatoes, pickling beets and making jam... sigh...
Southern people are good eaters. Not that other folks aren't but southern people just know how to cook up some really good grub and we love to be loved for our cooking.

Anyway, that doesn't have anything to do with where I was going with this post. Just thinking about my grandma and her relatives gets me kind of sappy and prods me to want to overeat some fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Anyone want to join me?

Back to Reality Where the Garden is Small
Daily the veggie harvest is increasing.
I don't think I've mentioned yet in all my blabbering about the veggies how absolutely tender and delicious the green beans have been. Granted they might be the easiest thing in the world to grow BUT... I've never grown them before and I'm elated at the daily fresh picking of green beans. Just in case anyone wants to know I direct sowed Burpee Bush Blue Lake 47 (Green Bush Snap) seeds on March 17 and an additional row on April 10. If I had more room I'd sow more now for a longer harvest. Alas, I do not have anymore room but I will sow more seeds in the fall.
I'm making a habit of plucking my tomatoes before they get completely ripe and then letting them complete the ripening process on the kitchen window sill or in a proper (cute, of course) bowl or basket. This method was something I remembered as I was waiting for my 'big' tomatoes to get completely ripened on the vine. It was one of those 'I could have had a V-8 moments'... slapping the palm of my hand on my forehead like oh, now I remember. Does anyone else do this or is it just something we do down here in the south? It actually works quite well and nowadays there are always ripe tomatoes to be eaten.


  1. I'm with you. Vine ripened. I put in some fresh basil so I can make tomato basil pie too. I can't wait to have a tomato sandwich. Your mater looks so good. I can smell it too. I bought some Paula Deen salad dressing yesterday. I can't wait to try it out on my first fresh salad from the garden.

  2. No fair. We won't have fresh tomatos for another month at least. I bet you are really enjoying them!!!!

  3. I love tomato sandwiches, (white bread, mayo, tomato, salt and pepper), YUM! Your tomatoes look so tasty!

  4. Mmm, they look GOOD! A few more of mine are changing colour now.

    I had some relatives like your grandmother... always WAY more food presented than could possibly be comsumed. I'll never forget visiting my aunt's sister in SC... huge long table, virtually sagging under the weight of all the food.. she said, 'if I'd known y'all were coming, I'd have made more...' My eyes were already wide as saucers... when I heard her say that, I just about slopped my dripper. LOL! Definitely count me in on the fried chicken and smashed taters!

    After seeing your harvest basket, I'm definitely going to look for some beans I can plant now. There must be some, right?

  5. Carol at May Dreams is going to be so jealous, Meems! Have you seen the yearly ceremony on her blog when she gets the first tomato?

    That looks like a perfect lunch to me!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  6. Having a fit over here. I want tomatoes too and we won't have any until June at the earliest.

  7. anna: I made the most wonderful pesto today with my fresh basil. Tossed it up with some warm pasta and shredded parmesan... mmm...mmm. We are really loving our fresh salad greens too. Hope you like that salad dressing.

    cindee: I am really enjoying them especially since I am so fascinated with the whole process. I'll be jealous when you have fresh tomatoes and mine are all gone.

    robin: me, too. only the tomato has to be really good to hold its far these have proven to make a really good tomato sandwich... i like to add a thin slice of sweet onion for the crunch too.

    sophie: over cooking is a southern tradition and always being ready for guests is another one. My grandmother used to leave a note on the kitchen table when she left the house- the back door unlocked- the note explained when she would be back and whomever might be reading it was welcome to stay for dinner. It's just the way things were...

    I suggest you look for the blue lake variety if you plant beans... they are very tasty and tender (no strings).

    Annie: I 'got nothin' on Carol. I remembered her ceremonial first tomato when I brought mine in from the garden. Somehow hers sure looks more perfect than mine so we just sliced up and ate... albeit on a pretty glass plate. :-)
    Hey- can you teach me how to do a link like that in a comment?

  8. whole tray of dream tomatoes are just little plants right now. I haven't succeeded yet, but I'm hoping this is the year!

    I LOVE love love cucumber salad and pickled beets. Reading about your grandma's literally made my mouth water :)

  9. As Annie in Austin commented, I am very jealous of your beautiful ripe tomatoes, but so happy for you, too, that you are growing them yourself. And green beans, too!

    I generally like to let the first tomato of the season ripen on the vine and then I eat it while it is still warm from the sun. Then I start to pick them a little greener and ripen them inside. This makes it more likely that some critter doesn't get to them before I do.

    And did you know I haven't even planted my tomatoes out in the garden yet! It is just getting to our frost free date and we've had a lot of rain this week. But I'll be planting them soon.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  10. Meems, my mouth waters when I see your healthy, beautiful vegetables...salade nicoise...yum!

  11. Aunt Debi: fortunately for you June is right around the corner and the amazing thing is how fast veggies grow once they get started. It won't be long and you will be slicing up your own tomatoes!

    amy: I wonder if the tomatoes notice the difference in your dry weather and our very humid weather? Your seedlings are going to be happy to be set in the ground soon and they will be making you successful very soon.

    Carol: I tried really hard to leave that big tomato on the vine until completely ripe. I was so concerned a critter might damage it that I got impatient and plucked it right off two days prior to completion... unscathed by any of the little worms that have made their home in a few others.I've been doing my best to pick off the little squirmies by hand and spraying with soapy water. It would be so much easier to use pesticide but I refuse. SO I lose a few tomatoes but still there are plenty untouched.

    Your garden must be loving all the rain. May is slipping by us without a drop so far.

    Trudi: Thank you. Mmmm... I hadn't thought about that but I like the suggestion!

  12. Those look wonderful. I had big plans to either stir fry some squash and zucchini or make my grandmother's squash casserole this week, but I think it will have to wait for the weekend.

    My great-grandmother had a garden and would do a lot of canning each year as well. I remember helping when I would go to visit, but I also remember helping clean out her pantry as she was getting much older. We found so many cans that had been put away over 10 years before. She was also famous for making way to much food and had inherited the saying from her MIL, "It isn't much, but your welcome to it." Now my mom says it when we are all home and there is way too much food on the table. :)

  13. Gorgeous tomatoes. Ours are just blooming in north AL. I look forward to BLTs and pasta with pesto and tomatoes. the basil are babies.

  14. Your tomatos look yummy. I was reading your post and couldn't stop thinking about them. Now that shows a good post.
    My grandmother was very similar to yours. She lived in the country and we would stay for holidays. The table was ladened with food, all grown by Gramps and Nanny was a fab cook.
    Thanks for bringing back those divine childhood memories.
    Must go and have a tomato!!!!

  15. Bacon and lettuce were thinking about those ripe delicious tomatoes...well, I was! How delicious indeed to have tomatoes taste like tomatoes are supposed to taste! How delicious also that there will be more on your table as the garden continues!

    I'm hungry now....


  16. Jane: my stir fry is getting less expensive with every harvest... still not the abundant overflow that was predicted but lots of promise still.

    pjbknit: Thanks for visiting Hoe&Shovel... once you see the bloom the fruit isn't long behind... you will be having pesto before you know it.

    cheryl: maybe the over abundance of food at any given meal is more a 'grandmother thing' than a 'southern thing' after all. Our grandmothers were very similar it seems.

    Gail: I did have a BLT recently with two of the smaller tomatoes very thickly sliced... it was oh so delectable. I'm trying really hard to leave the B off -- for healthy choices but it is hard to resist. :-)

  17. I had a vegetable garden when my kids were little. I remember when my daughter had her first storebought tomato, she spit it out!
    We used to have pizza rustica,pizza dough drizzled with olive oil and fresh vegetables from the garden, tomatoes, basil,peppers and zucchinis! yum!
    I think I will start a vegetable garden on my roof in July as soon as the rains start(that is when our planting season starts).
    Raccoons used to steal my mom's tomatoes. She would be watching and waiting. The night before she was going to harvest the eagerly awaited tomatoes, the raccoons would come and snatch them, living little tiny footprints behind.

  18. V-8 moment it is. They look yummy. This is the time of year in Tennessee when we all start dreaming about our first tomatoes.

  19. What a lovely tomato, and your first no less! I'm still waiting on mine to ripen.

  20. nancy: I worked in my garden all day today except for stopping for a tomatoe sandwich lunch break... which I anticipated all morning. So delish!

    theresa: it's interesting your growing season starts in July... seems like it would be way too hot then. Raccoons? Yikes. We have lots of them around here... I hope they don't notice my tomatoes.

    tina: TN isn't too far behind us... your very own yummy tomatoes are probably on their way.

    vertie: It has been a real learning process but yes, I'm enjoying tomatoes for the first time...

  21. Your tomatoes look delicious Meems. While I am not a veggie grower I appreciate all the efforts of the veggie gardeners.

  22. I have one little green Early will be a while until I get to eat it! Now that you are an old pro veggie gardener I'm sure you could make jam, pickled things and can tomatoes...those are all in the 'easy' category! Really...there are all sorts of recipes on line and good books out there! Just don't rely on old recipes...our tomatoes are less acidic and need added vinegar...and hot water baths are recommended now for jams...just a little extra step from what how we did it in the 70' can do it!

  23. How lovly and satisfying-harvesting delicious veggies you grew yourself. As for taste, nothing beats when its fresh-sometimes you swear you're eating a whole different vegetable than what you buy in the supermarket!
    I getting some tomatoes, peppers, basil and dill, now.


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