I don't remember a summer that my dad didn't grow tomatoes in our backyard. His love for tomatoes was strong and true. Each day he visited his plants, watered them, tended them, and very impatiently waited for his tomatoes to come in. He picked them when they were still green and set them on the windowsill in our kitchen. Once they ripened, tomato sandwiches followed. Duke's for my mom and butter for my dad. Now that I'm married, I don't know that I recall a summer without growing tomatoes in our garden. Maybe for the love of tomatoes, maybe for the nostalgia of summers as a kid, maybe because they remind me so much of my dad. All beautiful things do.
Watering: We avoid watering overhead and instead use soaker hoses. We also spread a bit of mulch around the plants to protect them from diseases that can splash onto the plants from heavy rains.
Supporting: We use cages and do our best to keep pace with them by tying them with garden twine before they have grown so tall they begin to fall over.
Fertilizing: We use a fertilizer like Miracle-Gro or Osmocote while the tomato plants are young.
Varieties of Tomato Plants
Riffs on Tomato Sandwiches
Here in Greenville, we are particular about our mayonnaise. After all, Duke's was born in Greenville by Eugenia Duke who made her special spread to accompany sandwiches she made to sell to army canteens during WWI.
Traditional Tomato Sandwich Recipe: two slices of white bread, a generous slathering of Duke's mayonnaise on each slice, and ripened tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. Delicious!
BLT (Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato) Recipe: two slices of sourdough bread, pimento cheese spread on each slice, crispy bacon, romaine lettuce, and ripened tomatoes with a little salt and pepper. Divine!
Italian Grilled Cheese Sandwich Recipe: two slices of sourdough bread, basil pesto spread on each slice, 2-3 slices of Mozzarella cheese, and sliced tomatoes pan grilled with light butter. Delectable! We serve this one with a side of pasta salad and cubed, chilled watermelon.
Rosé Pairings with Tomatoes
Summer in a Bottle by Wollfer Estate: I originally chose this wine because the bottle is just stunning, yet I have come to continue to choose it because it is crisp, light, and fruit-forward. Wollfer Estate describes it this way, "This rosé has lovely balance between the fresh fruit, fine tannins, good minerality and graceful acidity. It is the visual and taste portrait of the Hampton's high summer. "
Ameztoi Txakolina Rubentis: I learned of this particular rosé when reading Julia Reed's South (Reed, 2016). Her description made this one irresistible, "The vineyards are at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and you can practically taste the sea air with each sip (or gulp-this is a thirst-quenching wine)."