Pick-Your-Own Grape Tomatoes
Late August marks the peak of tomato season here on the farm. In addition to the diversity of heirloom, paste, grape, and slicing tomatoes that we grow for sale in our farmstand and at farmers’ markets, this year we also have Pick-Your-Own grape tomatoes available for $2/pint.
If you’ve been to the farm lately, you may have noticed a new hoop house located across the road from the farmstand. Surrounded by our cut-flower garden, the hoophouse was built early this spring and is the first moveable hoophouse on the farm. Inside, there are two rows of “Chiquita” grape tomatoes now available for picking. Chiquitas are a flavorful, deep rose-pink tomato similar in size to a cherry tomato but shaped like a grape.
Because tomatoes are a warm weather crop, they greatly benefit from the extra heat and protection the hoophouse provides early in the season. Once daytime temperatures start to climb, we roll up the sides of the hoophouse to help improve air circulation and keep the tomatoes healthy.
In a few short weeks when tomato season starts to wind down, we’ll pull the hoophouse with a tractor and move it to cover a planting of fall crops. This will allow us to continue harvesting crops later in the season once the weather starts to cool and help expand our production at a time when it starts to become harder to find fresh, local food. The new hoophouse will also allow us to better manage our soils, improving their health and helping to prevent disease by allowing us to rotate where we grow our tomatoes each year.
In the future, we hope to convert one hoophouse each year into a moveable hoophouse.
While grape tomatoes are an addictive and sweet snack you can “pop” in your mouth fresh from the vine, they are also perfect for roasting, adding to soups and stews, sun drying, making jam, or freezing. Try two of our favorite summer tomato recipes: Cabbage & Tomato Slaw and Tomato Salad.