The winner of this year’s ‘First Tomato of the Year’ title is Early Girl, above. This spring, in a fit of laziness, I didn’t bother to start any tomato seedlings myself, and was thus restricted to the more limited selection available at nurseries. Early Girl is a popular variety with home gardeners, producing nicely shaped, medium-sized, bright red globes in a short planting season.
Wikipedia notes: Based on a short-season hybrid tomato developed in France, the Early Girl was originally distributed in the United States by PetoSeed Co., a major agricultural seed supplier. The variety was named “Early Girl” by PetoSeed board member Joe Howland to complement the company’s popular “Better Boy” tomato. Seed catalog Burpee Seeds struck an exclusive three-year deal for the new variety, and featured it on the cover of its 1975 Spring catalog.
Speaking of Better Boy, Early Girl only just beat out the boy next door for top honours. The first Better Boy tomato will be ripe in another day or two. Better Boy tomaotes have been around for about 50 years, and reportedly hold a Guinness record for most fruit produced on a single plant.
But the true test of a tomato is in the eating. I sliced up the first Early Girl and RailGuy and I shared the slices over lunch. The slices are a beautiful brilliant red, and much more juicy than the tomatoes I last bought at the grocery store. The flavour is pleasant but mild, perhaps a bit bland if you like your tomatoes with a little punch.
I also have several varieties of cherry tomatoes that have already started producing mature fruit and are great for snacking and salads. Pictured below is Sweet Gold, which produces lots of golden tomatoes that are a bit larger than the popular little Sweet Million cherry tomatoes. They are prone to cracking if left to become overripe, however.
In past years, we have used a few raised beds as an informal vegetable garden. This spring, we expanded the vegetable space into a more formal area with walkways, a screened sitting area, and flowers and vegetables in a mixed potager garden. We started with taking up the sod with a rented machine and laying out the beds and walkways. Pictured above is the new site as it looked on June 3rd. The little wilted plants in the left-hand foreground are sunflowers, transplanted from the places where birdseed had sprouted around the yard.
And here is the same view now, two months later. The sunflowers are now 5 and 6 feet tall! Corn, to the right, is also taller than I am.
It has been very satisfying to watch the transformation of this space. And very pleasant to sip tea in the screened room and watch as goldfinches help themselves to sunflower seeds and hummingbirds visit flowers.