Lazy Ox Farm

  (Alton, Missouri)
Tomato variety trial notes, etc.
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Fresh Tomatoes in December?

Yes! We are eating fresh tomatoes from our garden in Zone 6 on December 8, and anticipate having some with Christmas dinner. The vines died over a month ago, but we had the foresight to pick all the unripe fruits before the first killing frost. We put them in crates in our pumphouse, and we take them out as they show color and bring them in the house. There they continue to ripen. Do they taste like sun ripened tomatoes? Honestly, no. But they are a sight better than supermarket tomatoes and are ours and are organic.

You don't have to have a root cellar to do this. Our pumphouse is an ancient out building on our farm that is constructed of concrete blocks held together by ivy. The tomatoes need to be kept cool, but not allowed to freeze. They need moist air, too. It rains in our pumphouse, (not enough ivy on top, I guess), but our veggies are happy there as long as they don't  sit in water. You can store root crops and tomatoes and peppers in a crawl space under your house. If your crawl  space is uninsulated you may want to insulate a small area with rigid insulation. It needn't be complicated or fancy. Just keep them cold and moist without freezing.

Out of the 40 or so varieties we are eating from our "root cellar" these days, the Japanese Black Trifele is by far the tastiest. (JBT is an all around awesome tomato, and you should try it.) We have so many  tomatoes that I process a big batch into sauce or salsa every week.  I cheat and add a little sugar to mimic sun ripened tomatoes, and it turns out great. It is so much nicer canning in cold weather than in hot!

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