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Truly a Gold Medal Winner

October 14th, 2015

This is my first summer growing ‘Gold Medal’ tomatoes and it won’t be my last. In fact, I’ll never not have them growing in the garden. After trying this lovely tomato out, I know exactly how it received its name. For starters, this huge beefsteak tomato produced a ripe tomato around the same time that my cherry tomatoes were first ripening in the garden. If you’re a fan of heirloom beefsteaks, you know the patience required to wait for what seems like forever for one to finally ripen. Not this beauty, even with it’s gigantic size, it still ripened quicker than anything but the cherry tomatoes.
Gold Medal tomato
Not only does this delicious tomato ripen super early, it produces loads of tomatoes and it just keeps on producing. This photo was taken yesterday in my garden, yesterday. It’s mid October in Maine. My ‘Brandywine’ and ‘Cherokee Purple’ tomatoes quit producing tomatoes long ago, not this baby, it’s still flowering and setting fruit. If you live in a northern climate, especially one with cold spring and fall temperatures I’d highly recommend adding ‘Gold Medal’ to your list of must grow tomatoes. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed, in fact I’m guessing you’ll be singing its praises and will grow it every year.

What’s your favorite no fail tomato? 

Happy 4th

July 9th, 2015

When I was younger, I remember my mom always trying to have a ripe tomato by July 4th. She used wall of waters, started planted early, and did all sorts of things to have tomatoes extra early. This year, I started ‘Glacier’ and ‘Stupice’ in early April. I planted some in the garden and some in pots. The ones in pots produced lovely ripe tomatoes on the 4th of July.
first ripe tomato 1
first ripe tomato 2
This isn’t too bad for Maine with no greenhouse. Next year I may try growing some in a low tunnel to see if that hastens ripening.
first ripe tomato 3
If you live in a colder climate, consider starting a few cold tolerant varieties and grow them in pots in a sunny location. The warmth of the soil in a container will help them grow and fruit faster.
first ripe tomato 4
I also realized that I haven’t yet published my list of the tomato varieties I’m growing this year, it includes a few old favorites and some new and exciting ones as well. I think I might wait until I start getting a few ripe ones so I can show you what they look like.

What’s the earliest you have harvested a tomato in your garden?

Grafting Tomatoes – Will It Work?

May 22nd, 2014

On Tuesday I grafted my first tomatoes. It should be an interesting experiment. The grafting seed stock was purchased earlier this spring and the seeds were started at the same time I started all of my tomatoes. You’re supposed to wait until your tomatoes have two sets of true leaves, which mine finally grew.
grafting tomatoes 4
grafting tomatoes 3
It’s really not difficult to graft tomatoes since tomatoes seem to want to live. I used this method from Herman’s Farm, I replanted a root grafting tomato and an heirloom tomato in the same pot. Then I simply cut the top off the grafting rootstock at a 45 degree angle and then cut a slit in the plant I wanted to graft and slid the rootstock stem up into the slit. I taped it with medical tape and in a week I’ll cut the stem of the heirloom tomato from the roots. Some methods have you cut the top off the heirloom tomato and graft it to the rootstock. This method seemed like I’d have better success for my first go at grafting.
grafting tomatoes 2
After grafting all of them I spritzed them with water and down into the basement on a heating mat they went to give them the warm dark environment they will need. I also put a clear plastic tote over them to hold in the moisture. They were left in darkness for a day and when I checked on them yesterday they had all perked up and looked great. Today the grow light will be turned on and hopefully they will start healing their wounds.
grafting tomatoes 1
I’m planning on planting these grafted tomatoes side by side with their own root counterparts in the garden. This will give me a good idea of how the grafting affected both disease resistance and fruit production. Stay tuned, it should be an interesting summer!

Are you doing any interesting garden experiments this summer?


April 19th, 2014

Last weekend I started my tomato seeds. I’m doing this a few weeks later than I usually do, but spring has been long in coming.
tomatoes 3
tomatoes 1
I’m growing a few new varieties this year, the ‘Beaverlodge’ types from Territorial. They are supposed to start producing at 55 days – we shall see if I’m harvesting fruit in late June. The best part about this variety is that if it does well it should be producing fruit for canning before late blight arrives.
tomatoes 4
This year I’m going to try grafting a few. I purchased the grafting seeds and am hoping to get enough rootstock to graft one of each of the heirloom varieties that I’m growing. I’ll plant them side by side with their non-grafted counterpart and look for any differences is disease resistance, growth rates and fruit production.
tomatoes 2
I’m most excited about my favorite tomato ‘Principe Borghese’. This beauty is the perfect tomato, small, delicious and a prolific producer. I love that it can easy be dried and tastes just like sun dried tomatoes. It also roasts up perfectly for my roasted tomato passata.

What’s your favorite tomato?

The End of Tomato Season

September 25th, 2011

At the end of September, about two months after the appearance of the first vine-ripened homegrown tomato of summer the time has come to dismantle the garden before the cover crop is sown. Frost is coming: fermentation and decay are in the air. Plants have fallen down, top heavy, and many tomatoes look like sad sacks, flaccid and drained.

-Amy Goldman (The Heirloom Tomato: From Garden to Table: Recipes, Portraits, and History of the World’s Most Beautiful Fruit)

Come mid-September, the tomato plants are no longer the stars of the garden. The Vines are starting to look like exhausted from their summer of bounty. I still have a few plants that are nice and green, but the majority of them are looking pretty rough.

Tomatoes don’t taste as well this time of year when the night temperatures start to drop. I have noticed that they’re not as sweet as August tomatoes and the depth of flavor just isn’t there. That’s the main reason I no longer keep the vines around until they are killed by frost.

Today I plan to spend my afternoon clearing out the two rows of tomatoes in the garden. All the green tomatoes will be put in the basement on shelves to ripen slowly. They won’t taste like vine-ripened tomatoes, but they’ll be quite delicious roasted with garlic and olive oil. The ripe ones will be canned into something delicious, most likely my new favorite recipe for them, Roasted Tomato Passata from the The River Cottage Preserves Handbook.

A few years ago I stated pulling them out in mid to late September to make way for cover crops or overwintering crops like garlic or shallots.

When do you clear out your tomato patch?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.