Tame Your Tomato. . .And A Seasonal Delight That Won't Be Here Long
It’s that time of year again. The rhubarb struggles to send up flower stalks signaling the approaching end of its harvest season. Tomatoes are growing. (Possibly all over your yard ). And the garlic springs forth its flower stalk, the scape.
Growers usually remove these stalks. At this tender stage the whole plant is still edible. The scape itself is milder in flavour, sort of like a garlic flavoured scallion.
You’ll find them on our stand, starting this week, but…. for only a few weeks.
So what do you do with them?
Here Are a few Ways To Enjoy These Delightful Garlic Scapes
Once you get your treasures home, wash them with cold water and pat dry. Then…
- chop them and add them to your stirfry dishes,
- chop and sauté your scapes and put them into frittatas or scrambled eggs,
- try adding scapes to fried rice,
- toss them on the grill as if you're preparing grilled scallions,
- cut them into shorter sections and pickle them like you would green beans,
- saute them and use them to top your next pizza,
- finely chop uncooked scapes and add them to vinaigrette for a change of flavour,
- and of course, don’t forget pesto! (you can use them just as you would regular garlic)
Now with so many ways to prepare these seasonal delights, it seems you should have no trouble using them up. If more remain, you can simply put your washed scapes into a plastic bag. Seal it, and toss it in the freezer. It will keep very well there for several months. Or you can dehydrate them in a dehydrator, and they will keep for even longer.
So what about those tomatoes you planted earlier? What type are they? Depending on the type you’re growing, you may need to tame them.
Do Your Tomato Plants Need To Be Tamed??
Tomato varieties are of two basic types: determinate and indeterminate.
While determinate varieties tend to have a limited size, the indeterminate varieties will grow and grow and grow some more...if you let them. Now, if you know you planted heirloom varieties and can’t remember the exact variety, it’s probably indeterminate. Most of them are.
So, you should be prepared to manage a plant that wants to get big. So how do you do this? Tame your tomato.
Here’s One Way to Tame Your Tomato
Store-bought tomato cages are usually okay for determinate varieties. However, they tend to be much too flimsy, and too small for the larger growing indeterminate types.
We suggest building your own.
You can easily make a large tomato cage that lasts for years with 5-foot, 10-gauge concrete reinforcement wire with 6-inch openings.
- Cut a 4 1/4-foot length of the wire and shape it form a circular cage.
- Use a bit of wire to tie the ends of the cage together to hold the shape. The cage will end up roughly 18 inches in diameter.
- Next, use a pair of bolt cutters to cut off the bottom two levels of horizontal wire, leaving only the verticals.
- You use these verticals to push the cage into the ground to secure it in place, with your tomato plant in the centre. Use one cage for each tomato plant.
- You can drive a wooden stake or two on opposite sides of the cage to secure it against high winds.
- As the plant grows gently pull the stems through and wrap them back into the cage or around the cage wire, so they don’t sprawl beyond it.
- When your tomatoes are ripe, just reach through the cage openings to harvest them.
With a little persistence your tomato will be tamed. You’ll be rewarded with a bigger tomato harvest while conserving space in your yard and garden. Fewer tomatoes will touch the ground or be totally hidden and rot.
Ideally, the plants should be caged when they are planted out. You can still do it a bit later, however, just don’t wait too long, or they will be too big and too easy to damage in the process.