Friday, August 17, 2012

San Marzano Tomatoes

While the rest of the U.S. is awash in ripe, red, juicy, delicious tomatoes, we gardeners (at least this gardener) here on the northern California coast are still waiting, watching and coaxing our tomatoes to grow (please) and become edible before the chill of fall sets in.

This does not mean that we are tomato deprived.  On the contrary, our inland farmers bring plenty of heirloom tomatoes to the farmers markets in our area and I buy lots of them.

Stubborn gardener that I am, I started these guys in the greenhouse hoping the warmer temperature within would give me ripe tomatoes sometime this summer.

Then came the white flies.  Clouds of them.

I do not use pesticides, even so-called organic ones.

So I moved the tomatoes to the outside garden.  Where they now sit in their warm black pots.  Pampered.  Not growing.  Sigh.

We have just learned that this July on the North Coast has been one of the foggiest on record since the late 1800s.

One would think that after 18 years of living here I would just get over trying to grow tomatoes.  I guess the part of my life before moving here, the part where I grew up and lived in the hot Sacramento Valley, the part where tomatoes were ripe, red, juicy and delicious by the end of June, that part simply will not give up.

Suggestions welcome.

Copyright 2005-2012, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved


  1. I am so sorry about the fog, Christine. That would be depressing, I'm afraid.

    I'm out of suggestions - unless you count shipping all the plants, lock, stock and barrel to Northeast Wisconsin..,

  2. I just think this hasn't been a great tomato year, because my plum tomatoes here in the Northeast aren't doing too well, either. too much rain early in the season, followed by no rain, followed by more rain....

  3. I feel similarly "tomato deprived" since moving to a live-work building on the Oakland waterfront. Love it hear but a miss my garden in the Oakland hills. I've been able to grow grape tomatoes indoors but couldn't get the Early Girls to set fruit. How do you pollinate tomatoes i a greenhouse? I'm also fighting off aphids on my Anaheim peppers. Frequent blasts of soapy water help somewhat but haven't eliminated the infestation. Interesting that they have ignored the jalapenos.

  4. I am sorry to read the tomatoes are not doing well. I tried one year and then gave up. If kale is what grows here, I'll grow kale (and garlic). I got a variety of tomatoes at the market this morning, and a new kind of pepper.

  5. Oh, I love San Marzanos! I've had to buy tomato seedlings the last few years and Roma was the only variety available. I've missed my San Marzanos.

    I can totally understand your not wanting to give up on growing tomatoes. After 18 gardening seasons in Missouri, I should probably give up on growing almost everything, lol.

    As for suggestions, all I can say is swap houses with us next summer. ;) Barring that, grow cherry tomatoes because they mature faster, but I'm sure you probably already are. xo

  6. I agree, Lydia, that this just hasn't been a good tomato summer for some of us. I do remember about five years ago that I had a wonderful tomato crop from the greenhouse. Go figure.

    Hi Vivian. I have two doors to my greenhouse to get a good cross-flow of air. I leave the solid doors open and have screen doors that have chicken wire on them so bees and other pollinators can get in. I really don't have trouble with pollination. It's the white flies and, yes, aphids that bother the plants. I suppose I could sulphur bomb the whole greenhouse this winter but I hate to use anything chemical, even if it's "natural".

    I have been buying wonderful tomatoes and peppers from the farmers market, Simona, so I'm not tomato-deprived, just gardener-frustrated.

    Well, Susan, be careful what you say here: I just may take you up on the house swap thing. :-). Although, come to think of it, I am a bit squeamish about copperheads.
    Funny you should mention the cherry tomatoes. They come up year after year in the greenhouse - I don't have to plant them - and they finally make just enough tomatoes in late October/November to make seeds for the next year. I find it amusing and let them do their thing.
    And the San Marzanos are not ripening, which is such a bummer but I probably had too much optimism when I bought those starts.


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