Welcome to the (tomato) jungle

Tomato Jungle

Tomato Jungle

I went to visit my tomatoes this morning and give them some TLC.

I made a deal with the SO in May – land for labour: I could have a wee bit of sunny space in his backyard to plant tomatoes as long as I took care of them. Friends provided eight seedlings and it is hard to believe that in 3 months they have grown from wee things to the current jungle…we kept having to restake them and come up with Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions to keep them aloft.

So far, we’ve harvested one ripe tomato but many on the vines and ripening…

My mother grew roma tomatoes in our backyard the summer I was nineteen.  I have very fond memories of feeding my friends Pasta Puttanesca after afternoons spent sitting under the apple tree drinking Growers Apple Cider (we were 19, living in Vancouver and those 2 litre bottles of Cider just seemed so sophisticated…hey, it was the mid-80’s…)

Puttanesca Pasta Sauce (4 servings)

Start a few splashes of olive oil heating at low-medium heat in a sauce pan.  When olive oil is heated, add 4 – 6 diced tomatoes (skin on), 1 diced onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic and cook until onion is soft.   Then add 8-10 chopped kalamata olives* and 2 anchovies (I use anchovy paste from a tube in a pinch).  Cook until reduced and then mix with pasta.

*Easiest way to pit olives is to take a large chef’s knife, lay the widest part of the blade broadside across the olive and hit the wide part of the blade sharply with the palm of your hand.

I love checking in on my tomato plants, watering them, and counting the number of new tiny baby tomatoes that seem to morph magically out of the yellow flowers.  And I love how even touching a tomato leaf emits the smell of ripe tomatoes and promises the bounty to come…

After a busy week full of catered lunches and airport food, it was grounding to spend some time today with the jungle and reconnect with real food.


About kate magee

I am a lifelong foodie who lives in Toronto and spends much too much of my time thinking, preparing, eating and writing about food...
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6 Responses to Welcome to the (tomato) jungle

  1. Love your tomato story! And the recipe sounds delish. Enjoy your Labour Day weekend!

  2. I’ve had the same problem since July; they just grew up and took over – shading everything, including their neighboring paprika plants. My fault though, planted them too close.

    • kate magee says:

      We keep wondering if we planted our seedlings too close as well..and my little pepper plants are definitely not thriving with the overgrown jungle…Any advice on the “right” amount of space between seedlings?

      • I can’t give any advice, as I’m learning myself; but I can tell you what I’ve read and intend to implement next year. Tomato plants need about 30-90 cm (12-36 inches) between them. Determinate (those with a set height growth) need less and indeterminates (those that will just keep growing taller) need more. I’m also going to ensure that my paprikas are in front of my tomatoes next year that they won’t be shaded. Hope that helps.

      • kate magee says:

        Will definitely remember that for next year’s planting season…especially as I seem to have an abundance of indeterminates that just keep growing and growing. Thanks!

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