Turning away from tomatoes and toward the persimmons
Brookside Farm Autumn 2009 Brentwood, CA
We queried our farmers last week, just before the Autumnal Equinox on September 22nd, to get one last report as tomato season comes to a close and to find out what is planned for the cooler months of fall.
Welling Tom of Brookside Farm had this to tell us:
Most of our tomatoes are finished, except for the San Marzano, which is still going strong. It turns out that most of the tomato plants which we bought from the nursery (a rather large operation which I will not name) as Early Girl were not Early Girl. We suspected something was not right when the fruits began to ripen in late June. They were much too big and squatty shaped, and the vines never grew as tall as Early Girl vines should. Early Girl fruits should be a bit pointed at the blossom end, and the “shoulders” around the calyx should not be very broad. Those girls are not supposed to look so butch!
New fruits ceased to appear after only about one month, while Early Girl should continue to produce as long as the weather remains warm and dry (through the month of October in most years). We never sold any to Oliveto, except a few green (unripe) ones for the Tomato dinners.
Many of the Brandywine plants which we bought from that same nursery turned out wrong also. They had the broad “potato” leaves, but the fruit were a bright orange-y red rather than the pinkish red of true Brandywines. They didn’t taste right, either. Still, despite these problems, our tomato harvest turned out pretty well. We will get our tomato plants from a smaller, more reliable nursery next year. Kassenhoff Growers of Oakland has been our source for specialty varieties, like the Pineapple, San Marzano, and Momotaro. We will turn to them for Early Girl and Brandywine too.
As of today, this eve before the Equinox, we have broccoli, rainbow chards, Lacinato kale, and snow peas already growing. We will try to grow more greens and beets and turnips in the next week or so, and garlic and torpedo onions too (October-November). This autumn should yield a heavy crop of Fuyu persimmons. We are looking forward to that.
We will have Comice pears available this week. Last Sunday, when I was delivering a late-summer bounty of okra, Japanese eggplants, ‘Figaro” peppers, and San Marzano tomatoes to the Oliveto kitchen, Jenny Raven asked me if we have any autumn fruits. We will have the persimmons about a month from now, but the Comice pears are already ripening.
Many of the farms we source from have gatherings at this time of year to celebrate the harvest. Full Belly Farm’s Annual Hoes Down Festival happens this weekend, October 3rd, and is always a good time with live music, tons of activities, and lots of excellent food.
On Sunday, October 18th, Riverdog Farm will host a Pumpkin Patch Party with hayrides, pumpkin picking, and a meal served under the walnut trees. They will post more details about this event on their website in the next few weeks.
Brookside Farm held its annual Corn Harvest party September 13th. Here are some photographs from the afternoon:
More photographs of the event were taken by Eisaku Tokuyama, a friend of the Toms, and can viewed here.