Wednesday, September 29, 2010

seeds of construction

Summer is having a fitful death in Oregon.

The last few days have started out cloudy.  But the humidity promised high temperatures by noon.  And Mother Nature delivered.

Septembers are usually pleasant in the Willamette Valley.  What is missing this year is that sharp coolness in the morning.  Reminding us that Jack Frost's wand is not far off.

But it also means great tomatoes.

One thing I have missed in Mexico is high quality tomatoes.  Melaque offers excellent fruit and vegetable choices.  With the noticeable exception of tomatoes.  Most of the tomatoes are as tasteless as the sad choices at my local Safeway.

And, of course, most of the year in Oregon, that is what we are stuck with.  Tomatoes that are indistinguishable from the hard and tasteless nectarines on the neighboring shelf.

But not in September.  That is when the heirloom tomatoes are at their finest.  And, usually, at a premium.  When my Safeway has them, they usually run around $12 (USD) a pound.

The best place to buy heirloom tomatoes is at the local Saturday Market -- a few blocks from my house.  The tomatoes are fresh from the field.  But they usually cost about the same as Safeway's offerings.

Not this last Saturday.  Due to some unseasonably early rains, the tomato (and wine grape) harvest suffered.  I ran into one small retailer who was trying to move the last of his inventory -- at $2 (USD) a pound.  A real bargain.

I grabbed a few treasures and scurried home with them -- where they became the star attractions in a Greek salad.  The best I have had on my trip north this year.

What I now need to do is grow some of my own heirloom tomatoes in Mexico.  Jennifer Rose found some heirlooms in Morelia.  She saved the seeds and started her own crop.

The last thing I need in Mexico is to be tied to a vegetable garden.  After all, I have put off buying a dog until I get the travel bug out of my system.  But I should be able to deal with a few tomato plants.

This weekend, I will pick up a few overripe tomatoes, dry the seeds, and slip them across the border in November.

It may turn out to be the best of both worlds.



el jubilado said...

Hey Steve ... bring some seeds back and we can see how they'll do. Not sure they are avaailable here but just incase. I'll share if mine do well

el jubilado said...

I meant in the seed packets

Tancho said...

Good God man, 12 bucks a pound? Even rip off California Safeway stores only get 5 to 6 bucks a pound for them! I though Oregon was the land of cheap and honey?
Hurry back, got some great tomatoes at the super today for 8 pesos a KILO.
I hope your NOB jaunt was profitable, more than enough to make up for the price of tomatoes.
Grab some Arugula seeds and Romain lettuce, you can plant those in a long wooden box and harvest all year round for those nice crisp salads......

Calypso said...

We get Roma tomatoes for 5-6 pesos a kilo - hardly worth growing at that price - AND they have some flavor to boot ;-)

Laurie said...

Our Honduran Roma tomatoes are delicious and the price is shamelessly low - less than a dollar a pound. But I don't want to make you blue about tomatoes. Or maybe I do want you to be blue. Because my favorite dive in New Orleans is the Blue Tomato. Go if you ever visit my city.

Nita said...

You can have the tomatoes. What I wish is that we could grow Ranier Cherry trees in the south.Probably too hot.

Jonna said...

I'm with you on the taste of tomatoes down here, bleh! and Roma tomatoes are not real tomatoes to me. Still, $300+ pesos a kilo? Argh! There are no tomatoes that are worth that. That gives me the willys, I can't imagine paying that much for tomatoes. The trick, as I've been told, to growing tomatoes in the tropics is to plant them about now, at the end of the rainy season. So, I have one plant growing and we will see. There are hybrids that were developed for Florida that withstand the heat and humidity better, perhaps you should find room in your suitcase for a package of those seeds. Forget the ones that do well in Oregon, they won't do well in Melaque.

norm said...

I buy my seed from Seedway, I have had the best luck with their stuff growing here in Ohio but they sell seeds for growing plants in the south as well. If you want to save the seeds, buy open pollinated seeds as they will breed true if you grow them by themselves. The trick for growing tomatoes is high organic soil and it needs to be a tad acid in its PH. I take vacations during growing season and the garden does fine well the weeds do better but that's part of the deal.

jennifer rose said...

You do know that tomato seeds have to be fermented before drying to get that mucous which prevents germination off?

I'd suggest that you concentrate upon growing smaller tomatoes, because they present less opportunity for pests to attack them. Please bring us some seeds for white and pink tomatoes, and we'll give you some of our seeds for brown and yellow tomatoes. BTW, mine aren't heirloom. I just bought interesting gourmet tomatoes at Superama and harvested the seeds.

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

We've got heirlooms!!! Yep. Brandywine, low acid yellows, green striped zebras, and something that looks like early girls or ace - and they are deeelish! Organic too. Available once a week at our new Organic Farmers Market. Bought about 10 big plump juicy ones a couple of weeks ago for . . . ba dump bump. . . 35 pesos!
REAL tomatoes are hard to grow here in MX, Steve, much harder to grow at the beach.
Agree, romas are a poor substitute for real tomatoes.