My Garden

First Ripe Tomatoes

My dad always told me that your corn needs to be higher than your knee and your tomato plants need to produce a ripe tomato by July 4th. I completed both of those goals this year.

I usually follow other garden rules as well. One rule is to plant your tomatoes after the last day of frost (May 15 in Santa Fe). My dad likes a big harvest and is a risk taker. We found a sale on tomato plants in March for $1.09 per gallon pot. This was a great deal….but it was March and still snowing in Santa Fe. This did not seem to phase my dad and he picked out five tomato plants.

Melon Bin

The five feet beside my house and the neighbors wall has the best sun for tomatoes, jalapeno, cucumbers and melons. My dad built me a 3’x9′ raised bed for the tomatoes and one cucumber.  We used farm water troughs for the cantaloupe and ambrosia melons.  We filled all of them with a mix of my yard’s clay soil, compost and a soil mender. For mulch we used cotton bur compost so that it would retain the most moisture over the hot /dry summer.

Here are the tomatoes planted in the raised bed:
Tomato Moskovich, heirloom, organic and indeterminate
Tomato Cherokee Purple, heirloom, organic and indeterminate
Tomato Lemon Boy, heirloom, organic and indeterminate
Oregon Spring, hybrid and determinate
Grape Tomato

My Tomato Garden

We dug holes and filled them with water. You only have one chance to water below your tomatoes and that is before you plant them. We repeated the watering three times. The tomatoes were then planted and mulch placed around the plant stalks. It was still freezing at night so we built a row cover over the plants. This was a simple wire frame that we pushed into the ground. I used some of the row cover that Mesa Top Farm uses in Santa Fe so it had a higher UV rating and kept the wind and snow away from the plants.

Two days later it snowed. I left the plants covered until it was sunny so that they would not receive any additional cold. The Moskovic had been bitten by the cold temperatures and most of the branches broke off the plant. I continued to pretend that it was alive and water it for the next few weeks. It looked very sad, but I resisted pulling the plant. Within three weeks, it had new branches and was growing a second stem. Now that plant is the largest that I have! The same thing happened to the Lemon Boy in late April. It returned as well and is larger than before.

If you plan to plant tomatoes outside in freezing temperatures, you want to look for cold tolerant plants. The Oregon Spring was the fastest producing tomato and the one that was ripe on July 4th. I don’t count the grape tomato because it does not have large tomatoes and they were ripe the first week in June.

I bought a few of the plants that the CSA sold in June. They are doing well in the soil and have almost doubled in size.

CSA Tomatoes
Amish Paste Roma, heirloom, organic and indeterminate
Brandywine, heirloom, organic and indeterminate
Tomato Fantastic, hybrid and indeterminate

Amish Paste Roma Tomato

The Amish Paste has a nice tomato! It is still growing and is green, but I was amazed to have fruit less than a month after it was planted. I have more of these planted in my backyard and Milagro Community Garden. Hoping to have a nice crop to make pasta sauce and can it.

Purple Cherokee Tomato

Does anyone else have gardening stories or pictures to share?  Email me at

Amy Hetager, CSA Blogger



Filed under Garden Outreach Program

4 responses to “My Garden

  1. alice lee

    Tomatoes are my favorite thing to grow.(next to roses). I am finally get around to growing eggplant also this year. Because tomatoes love heat, I invested in “walls of water” this year and use big black container pots to grow my tomatoes. These pots are used for three years in a row for tomatoes. I just add some good compost and fertilize weekly..I experimented this year with different kinds, and three different local nurseries. Not only do the walls of water give off heat during the cool nights we have here in Santa Fe, they also protect the little plants you buy from the nurseries from the extreme winds. Amy, I hadn’t heard about the ripe tomato before the fourth of July, but I had some red guys too. Yippeee! Pictures to follow!

  2. I would like to add a tip here. Pinch and remove suckers that develop in the crotch joint of two branches. They won’t bear fruit and will take energy away from the rest of the plant.

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