Monthly Archives: August 2012

Dry Farmed ‘Maters

Yeah, I talk in baby talk now. Like taters and maters. I slur a little bit to create a country kind of twang.
So…dry-farmed tomatoes. I did it this year, with stupendous results.

The skins are very sturdy (don’t want to say tough) and inside is the sweetest, juiciest yum sweet tomato. This is a plate of them with black sea salt from that new cool spice shop called the Oakland Spice Shop on Grand. They are also very good to can, as they hold their texture and don’t go all wobbly in the jar.

Why are they so damn good? Basically I tortured them. The French say the grapes must suffer in order to make the best wine. Same principle with dry-farmed tomatoes. Here’s how it works. In the spring you amend the future tomato bed with a deep layer of compost goodness and a thick layer of straw mulch. Then let the winter/spring rains do their thing. Before planting the tomato plants, soak the area with plenty of water for a long time, then plant. As they grow, keep them irrigated. Then, around May (this is in the Bay Area when you can plant maters in March, later in other areas), stop giving them water entirely. Because of this lack, they will look terrible, unhealthy:

(Note that I should have staked them up but I’ve been distracted) As the hot summer goes on, you might even feel bad. But don’t water them!! Having no water makes them dig their roots in and make some tasty sacrifices–what they give up in vegetative growth, they give to the fruit. Small fruit, mind you, about the size of a golf ball. But they are flavor explosions!!! Not only does it make the best tasting tomato ever, it also saves water. That’s a win-win.

I didn’t grow enough to can them (that’s where my duck barter comes in) but they are a wonderful snack or salad addition.