I love tomatoes. And my husband really loves tomatoes. When we bought our first house about 3 years ago, we decided to plant one tomato plant and one basil plant in the backyard. We didn’t know what we were doing as neither of us had ever had our own garden, but we were pleasantly surprised by the outcome– Fresh tomatoes! And basil!
We had so much fun with that one tomato plant that we decided to plant more the following year….lots more. I let my husband pick out the plants and he became obsessed. He bought a new tomato plant every time he left the grocery store, hardware store, and he even made special trips to the nursery for them. In the end, we had about 15 tomato plants, just for the two of us. We ended up with such an abundance of tomatoes that I began bringing bags upon bags into work to give away. We also planted jalapenos, green onions, zucchini (we had way too many zucchinis and had to give them away by the dozens all summer), bell peppers, and a few different herbs. We made salsa every week, spaghetti sauce from scratch, fajitas with the peppers, and the list goes on and on.
Having our very own vegetable supply a few steps away from the kitchen was the coolest thing to us. Why hadn’t we been doing this for years? Oh yeah…because it’s a ton of work. Our drip system doesn’t work very well so in the heat of the Sacramento summer we have to water these plants almost every day. And then there’s the weeding, oh the weeding. It never ends. After a summer of wedding planning and working, and trying to keep our garden alive and healthy, we decided we would scale back a little the following year. This was just too much work.
The next year came and we decided to plant some tomato plants from seeds this time around. We would buy seed packets and little containers to start the plants and keep them inside until the weather permitted their move to the outdoors.
We planted tons of seeds thinking only a few would take because that is what we’ve seen in the past. Although we had never planted anything inside. So, to our surprise, they all took. They all grew into tiny little tomato plants and when it came time to move them outside, we couldn’t bare to get rid of any of them. So we planted them all. Which ended up adding up to well over the 15 we had the last year. So much for scaling back.
This year we have romas, shady ladies, yellow pears, red cherrys, red grapes, early girls, lemon boys, and multiple different heirlooms who’s names I have forgotten. We also have a slow-producing zucchini plant, an overgrown monster-of-a-squash plant, we had lots of grapes before the birds ate them, we have green and white onions, thai chili peppers, a few bell peppers, and a crazy overgrown raspberry that we planted and now wish we didn’t. Oh, and my favorite vegetable of all time, artichokes. We had one artichoke plant that produced about 6 delicious-but-small artichokes. Yum.
This year my favorite tomato plant has surprisingly been the roma plant. This is the first year we have planted them and I really love their flavor and texture. They stay nice and firm for days after they’re picked! They are perfect for my homemade spaghetti sauce (with extra basil).
Here is a recipe that I basically just throw together from the veggies I find in the yard-
What you’ll need (amounts aren’t listed because I never measure, I just throw it all in!):
– as many roma tomatoes as you can harvest (you can mix in other varieties as well)
– yellow onions
– olive oil
– fresh garlic
– fresh basil
– fresh oregano (or dried if you can’t find fresh)
– a little red wine
– salt and pepper to taste
What to do:
Blanch washed tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove and cool under cold water while peeling off skin. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil in a large deep pot. Dice tomatoes and throw into garlic and onion mixture once onions start to look clear. Add a little red wine and bring to low boil. Throw in oregano, basil, salt, and pepper, and reduce heat to low and simmer up to 2 hours. I usually do the faster version, simmering only for 30 minutes.
Top with fresh basil and shaved parmigiano reggiano and you’re done! Oh and this next part is mandatory- pair with a delicious glass of red wine.