Although much of this year’s Tomato Dinner menu is still in its wild, unfettered state (i.e. Chef Jonah’s brain), one thing is certain: there will be Early Girls. More specifically:

Farroto-stuffed Early Girl tomatoes with La Tur cheese fonduta and broccoli di ciccio

A favorite here in the Bay Area, the the Early Girl variety reaches its most vivid potential when it is dry-farmed by a skilled farmer whose climate allows for minimal to no irrigation throughout the growing season. Joe Shirmer of Dirty Girl Produce heads up just such an operation in Santa Cruz where he grows Early Girls that are exceptionally sweet and lively with minerality.

We’ve been a fan of Joe and his tomatoes for a number of years and admire his commitment to the practice of dry-farming, as well as its history. Finding little current information available Joe tracked down texts dating back to the 1920s in an effort to understand how to grow vegetables using limited water. In the video above, he imparts some of his wisdom.

Additionally, we found a great online resource, Internet Archive, a non-profit out of San Francisco, that allows you to flip through books like this dry-farming guide from 1909.

Click to flip pages

Click to flip pages