Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tomato wisdom from my favorite local organic farmer

Place your prized not-quite-ripe Cherokee Purple tomato (saved from squirrels by bird netting) on a soft towel on your kitchen table because its skin is quite fragile. Be patient with your Sun Gold cherry tomatoes: they are a little slow to ripen on the vine.

That is what I learned this morning from Larry Butler, one of the owners/farmers of my favorite local organic farm stand, Boggy Creek Farm. Carol Ann Sayle, the other owner/farmer and wife of Larry, has always been eager to share her expertise with me, too, ranging from recipe ideas to growing tips.

My first homegrown Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato

I’ve been a regular weekly customer at the Boggy Creek farm stand, in central east Austin, since 2003, and regret I didn’t know about this gem before then!

Husband Kurt and I had just returned from a great summer trip to France (work for him, fun for me) and were intent on trying to recreate some part of that daily French market experience in our hot, Austin summer lives when we heard about Boggy Creek. Yep—call me a Francophile; I can handle it. (However, I really need to become more proficient in French to truly earn the Francophile label, even in jest.)

Anyway, Boggy Creek is the closest thing we found. We’ve learned so many things from Carol Ann and Larry and Cousin Claire and all their knowledgeable staff, including how to eat in season. Running into local chefs (from Wink, Blue Star Cafeteria, Asti, Barr Mansion, Uchi, and Cissi’s—I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone) on market days and asking what they’re doing with certain produce is always fun, too!

Heirlooms I bought today at Boggy Creek


KMTBERRY said...

CONGRATULATIONS!! WHat a gorgeous Tomato!! My tomatoes totally SUXXOR this year, I am thinking of pulling them all up already, they have red spider mites so bad.

TexasDeb said...

I have three teensy sun golds and one barely larger than that Early Girl. Period. At this rate so far each teensy tomato probably cost us $4.

So - where did you get your seed Iris? Did you save them from one of your tomatoes last year? Any hints?

Iris said...

Thank you, and I'm sorry about yours. I've been lucky this year with tiny critters. This is my first-ever non-cherry-sized tomato, and there are at least six more out there, so I'm pretty excited!

My (producing) Cherokee Purples and Sun Golds are from 10" plants I bought from the Boggy Creek farm folks. The ONE plant (Black Krim) that's setting fruit, I grew from Botanical Interests brand seed. I think I bought the seed at Breed and Co. or Shoal Creek Nursery.

I'm just now learning how to save the seeds from the delicious heirloom Lemon Boys and Green Zebras from Boggy Creek, and I'll do the same from any of our own homegrowns. We'll see how those seeds work out this Fall or next Spring!

Oh--my only hint is that my tomatoes are planted in a bit more shade than one normally expects, and that keeps them cooler when it gets so hot so early.

Annie in Austin said...

Yay, Iris - good luck with the rest of the tomatoes. I bring them in when blushing - rather have an almost-vine ripened tomato than see a squirrel eating the ones allowed to turn red outside!
Last year we had some Black Krims but this year they were hit by hail and are struggling. So far Early Girls and Carmellos are the Tomato for 2009.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose