Appalachia Appalachia Through My Eyes

Appalachia Through My Eyes – The First Ripe Tomato

My life in appalachia the first tomato

The first ripe tomato of the year causes a mini celebration for me and The Deer Hunter. This year the first ripe one we found was a Mountain Princess from Sow True Seed. Once you find the first ripe tomato, it’s like they appear magically before you eyes every time you look in the garden you see another one peeking out at you.

This is the fourth year we’ve used our Tomato Hangers made by Kenneth Roper-and they are still going strong.

The more than abundant rain we’ve had this summer has hampered our efforts at taking care of the tomatoes like we should-as well as caused the tomatoes to grow as tall as small trees. In other words a few are sprawled over into the yard instead of standing securely next to Kenneth’s handy dandy tomato hangers.

Papaw Tony says when he was boy they never staked their tomatoes-they just let them grow where they would.


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 17, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    We got our first “Sweet 100’s” (a type of tiny tomato) a week or so ago. Got our first big tomato day before yesterday. Can’t remember the name but it is yellow. Of course it had a spot of blossom rot. The rest of our tomatos are just hanging around, waiting for some heat and a little dry spell!
    One of my favorite sandwichs, is a fresh tomato, a fresh cucumber sliced downards and lettuce. Yummm-o…I also love fresh sweet pickle and peanut butter sandwichs…I also love to make a garden slaw, with cabbage, tomato, and cucumber…maybe a tiny bit of carrot, fresh bell or gypsy pepper and a touch of fresh onion yummmmmm!
    Our Marconi peppers are loving this weather…growing fast and huge….we’ve picked a dozen or more! Bell peppers not so good, but growing.
    Thanks Tipper,

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 15, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    You have to have light bread to have a sandwich, don’t you? Some of us are still in the biscuit and cornbread era. Or have we slipped backward? Have you ever cut up fresh tomatoes into crumbled cornbread and let it soak up the juice? Do you know how heaven must be?

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    We grow tomatoes from seeds we save from the tomatoes we had and liked the year before. This year, however, the only ones that grew after all that planting were the cherry tomatoes. They ripened as soon as the rain broke. I picked ’em when I was cleaning and refilling the hummingbird feeders yesterday. I washed ’em and promptly ate them, and very soon got into trouble with Bro who, I quickly discovered, had been waiting with baited breath to have a few himself. Oh well… You snooze, you lose! LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    July 15, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    We’ve been eating our Cherry tomatoes for several days, but we ate our first Better Boy today.. Ours are also tall as small trees, I have a 4ft cage like device and they are over the top and loaded with tomatoes..

  • Reply
    July 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    I picked about 4 gallons of tomatoes today along with about 6 gallons of green bell peppers. We freeze both for winter soup and chili. We just finished 17 quarts of dill pickles. I think the neighbors will get all that We can’t eat from this day forward. We’ve been eating sweet corn for about 2 weeks and need to find room in the freezer for that. We have also frozen yellow and green squash for winter soup.
    You can have your mayo, bacon, salt, pepper, etc. My sandwich has peanut butter on both slices of bread with an inch slice of tomato between. That’s a good lunch.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I’m with Miss Cindy — can’t beat a fresh ‘mater sammich!!!

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 15, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    In my opinion the final resting place for a good ripe tomato is between the halves of a big old biscuit with a good sprinkle of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 15, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I got a late start this year. I had to buy my tomato plants at a greenhouse. I started staking them early and have faithfully tied and suckered them between rain showers. I followed the advice of fellow Blind Pig readers and put Epsom salt and crushed egg shells in the hole when I planted them. I put wheat straw on the ground around the plants and between the rows. I don’t have any ripe yet I have a couple as big as softballs and a whole bunch the size of tennis balls. I had to throw away a couple that had blossom end rot and one that had a baby hornworm munching on it. So far the rest look good. Wish me luck!
    PS: I dug holes about 18 inches deep and filled them with about a foot of good topsoil then mixed the Epsom salts and eggshells in it. I planted the tomatoes about six inched below ground level and filled in with more topsoil as they grew out. They seemed to like my treatment as they have outgrown the 5 foot stakes. I don’t have anything to tie them off to now. Do you know anybody with any skyhooks they would sell do you?

  • Reply
    July 15, 2013 at 10:49 am

    My tomatoes won’t be ripe for about
    two more weeks, but I worked them
    boogers over last week. I’ll bet I
    cut-off a wheelboro load of suckered limbs that don’t have blooms. Now I can see under them and sprinkle lime powder underneath to prevent blossem end rot. Some of my neighbors are complaining about that.
    I’ll have to agree with Jim on the
    bacon thing, nothing tastes better. Much needed Sunshine today and tomorrow…Ken

  • Reply
    Sharon Schuster
    July 15, 2013 at 10:35 am

    We had our first tomato last week – a Black Krim, very similar to the Cherokee Purple. The Black Krim is my favorite for taste and you can peel it with your hands – no knife necessary except to slice. I could live on mater sandwiches all summer.

  • Reply
    Gary Powell
    July 15, 2013 at 9:26 am

    My wife and Grandaughter picked a couple of ripe tommytoes this morning. We planted in pots and tied them up to canes that I cut on the creek bank. Don’t know how tall they will get. Have both red and yellow.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 15, 2013 at 8:54 am

    It sounds like our gardens have a lot in common this year. I went from my first ripe tomato last week to about fifteen this week. I had already be enjoying them though since I had been frying green ones which were wonderful also. I wasn’t able to sucker them like I usually do so mine are sprawled all over the fencing I use to keep them tied up to.

  • Reply
    Melissa P (Misplaced Southerner)
    July 15, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Lucky you! We have four in pots on our deck (only sunny place in over an acre). Like y’all, we’ve had an abundance of rain this year. Our plants are gorgeously green, but – so far – no maters. On the bright side, Michigan is gonna have bumper crops of corn, apples, peaches, and cherries. This is great news for all the farmers up here as most lost their whole crops last year.

  • Reply
    Gina S
    July 15, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I recall gardens with tomato vines sprawling every where. The tomatoes from them seemed to be the tastiest ever. My favorite tomato memory comes from the mid 1950s when a friend of my dad brought us a bushel basket of tommy-toes. They were the perfect size for me to rinse, sprinkle with salt, and pop into my mouth. Maybe your daughters could have fun with the song, True Love and Homegrown Tomatoes.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    July 15, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Tipper–Although my tomatoes are running way late this year, we’ve been getting them for two weeks (as well as losing lots to buckeye rot caused by way too much rain). My first ones were Cherokee Purples, and after almost 50 years of experimentation and trying many heirloom and other species, I think they are my #1 mater.
    As for sandwiches, there’s one addition that is, for me, perfection–bacon. Adding bacon to a tomato sandwich puts the lace on the bride’s pajamas from a culinary perspective.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    July 15, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Congratulations! I hope the family enjoyed a slice or two of the grand appearance. I notice that the corn fields have some sparse areas; I am guessing that the rain drowned the seeds. I did have my first green pepper last week. It was yummy! Happy tomato season!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 15, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Beautiful!!! I bet that that tomato was destined to lie between to slices of bread with lots of mayo, salt, and pepper! There is nothing in the world like a fresh home grown mountain tomato unless it’s a mater sandwich made from that tomato.
    I visited my friends Tom and Suzanne the other day and they had tomatoes coming soon. All their vines were tied up neatly with Ken’s tomato stakes that they bought a few years ago. They work real well and best of all they last forever. That’s saying something is this age of throw away stuff!

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    July 15, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Our local organic garden uses hangers too, most efficient for those with little planting room.
    Nothing like a tomato sandwich with a tomato still warm from the vine.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    July 15, 2013 at 7:10 am

    I also had my first tomato yesterday. Doesn’t the first taste beyond belief? YUM!

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    July 15, 2013 at 7:08 am

    “A taste around” with that first tomato! How I remember! We were tempted to pick too soon just to get that first juicy, acidic taste! I hope your sprawling “tree” vines yield well! And don’t forget that treat: Fried Green Tomatoes! This was a way of getting a treat before the tomatoes ripened to their rosy red.

  • Reply
    July 15, 2013 at 7:06 am

    A truly wonderful sight that only a dedicated gardener can appreciate. There is nothing better than a toasted mayo and fresh tomato sandwich. I may try my hand at saving tomato seed this year. My garden got a late start, but have some green tomatoes and a crookneck squash about 2 inches long.
    The only advantage I have seen from all the rain is the greens are abundant.

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