by Jean McCamy
They’re here! This year’s Mortgage Lifters, Cherokee Purples, Black Krims, Ponderosa Pinks, Green Zebras and friends are out in the garden trying to outdo each other. It’s a mouthwatering array, from the little plum tomatoes perfect for roasting to the huge pink beauties that look more like pale pumpkins than tomatoes.
I feel a bit sorry for the perky cherry tomatoes that we got so excited about a few weeks ago when they were the first reds and yellows in sight, and the first-picked burst of summer taste. But now, they have definitely taken a back seat to the big, burly batch of heritage fruits.
Of course, the big boys have their enemies. All the rain has not been kind to some of them, with molding vines, stem rot and skin splits marring their beauty, but most of them are weathering the rain pretty well.
Weathering the attack of the groundhogs? Not so much. We’d had a few minor tastings take place, most likely birds, rabbits and squirrels, but a couple of nights ago we had an onslaught that stripped the bottom two feet of several favorite plants — chomping down on each ripe tomato and dropping green ones to the ground.
I really like fried green tomatoes, green tomato casserole, green tomato soup and green tomato chutney, but not all at once, and not as much as all the good ways you can fix ripe tomatoes. Besides, sharing them is half of fun of growing them, and who wants a bag of little green tomatoes? But fortunately, so far, we still have nice, juicy, ripe tomatoes to eat and to share.
Someone offered me a recipe for roasted groundhog. It’s tempting, but we have to catch the wily creature first.
—Jean McCamy is a Wake Forest artist