written by Thor Erickson | illustrations by Isaac Peterson
Few things are more satisfying than taking a bite of a ripe tomato in the height of the season. One of those things is taking a bite of a ripe tomato that you grew yourself.
Admittedly, growing a tomato in Oregon isn’t easy. Warm summer days are great for growing the luscious fruit, but the chilly nights can wreak havoc on the temperamental vines. After twenty five years of trying, I remain, for the most part, unsuccessful at growing a flavorful, vine-ripened Oregon garden tomato.
I’ve been given all sorts of advice, solicited and not, about what to do to care for these sensitive plants, including: “When the tomatoes are green, dig ’em up and hang ‘em upside down in yer shed.” “Take last year’s dead plants, sew them into a quilt, and use that quilt to cover them at night.” “Make a tea out of coffee grinds, egg shells and deer urine, and when the moon is full, sprinkle the tea on the north side of each plant.”
Without recourse, I put skepticism aside and made several attempts at following some of this folksy advice to no avail. I decided to rely simply on sunshine, water, and soil. Lo and behold, by simply relying on these three elements of nature, every year when September rolls around I have more tomatoes, in all degrees of ripeness, than I know what to do with.
Whether they are green, yellow, red, or anywhere in between, I’ve found that roasting them always brings about more flavor and sweetness. This tomato pie is a tasty way to celebrate your efforts.