Heirloom Tomato Open-faced Sandwich


basil and heirloom tomato open faced sandwich

When it comes to the season’s first home grown heirloom tomatoes, I want to enjoy them in minimalist preparations in order to taste their concentrated flavours of summer. As the season winds down, so does the taste of tomatoes, and this is the time to throw them in a pot with roasted garlic for creamy tomato soup or roast them for passata, but for now, here is what we are doing: Slice the tomatoes to 1/2 inch thick pieces, place on sliced grain bread with plenty of mayonnaise, freshly harvested basil leaves, salt and pepper, and voila!

sliced heirloom tomato

Today’s post is more of a lesson that I learned regarding tomato growing than a recipe post. Truth be told, my heirloom tomatoes have been doing poorly compared to the previous summer, despite the fact we’ve been having a great dry summer and last year’s was wet. The reasons and solutions are:

heirloom tomatoes

a)    Nitrogen build-up in soil.

My tomato plants had too much leafy growth and little fruiting. My friend, a pro gardener, pointed out that I have planted tomato plants in the same spot in our mini green house for a few seasons, applying rotted manure every spring: thus, nitrogen from the manure built up excessively. To avoid a situation like this, she suggested, as her father used to do, that I remove a foot high or so of soil from the area and replace it with new soil. Alternatively, she recommended that I simply plant nitrogen guzzlers such as squash or cabbage.

Heirloom tomatoes and Dark Opal, Siam Queen and Genovese basil plants

b)    Too close to the south facing wall

A south facing wall is a perfect spot for heat loving stone fruit trees and such, but too much heat radiates from the wall for the tomato’s tender leaves. Although I have been trying to utilize unused space by growing containers of tomato plants, I will have to leave my containered peach tree alone there when the tomatoes have finished this year.

The tomato thief

c)    Tomato thief

One of our dogs turned into what we call a “tomato thief.” He was busted while having a grand time devouring ripened plum tomatoes that were grown for our Margharita pizza sauce! The tomatoes were growing at his eye height, so we will have to raise the bed higher for the next season!

What kind of tomato problems are you all facing?

basil and heirloom tomato open faced sandwich


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29. August 2012 by Emi Uchida
Categories: Breakfast, Garden, Garden Tips, Recipe, Sandwich, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , , , | 6 comments

Comments (6)

  1. Those sandwiches look amazing! Giant slabs of tomato on good bread with herbs are one of my favorites too.

    Our tomato problem is rampaging vines! The plants are trying desperately to pull themselves out of the ground and throw themselves over the entire yard. IT’s a good thing we have lots and lots of big stakes, is all I’m saying.

  2. We began the season with beautiful tall and healthy tomato plants, really nice early fruit. Shortly after we were invaded by squirrels and chipmunks….they took probably 80 % of the fruit. They also ravaged our peaches and nectarines!

    • Wow, I didn’t know squirrels eat tomatoes! They must be really hungry? We have a large population of squirrels but a huge walnut tree in our backyard keeps them at bay! Thank you for your comment, Nick.

  3. Emi, it is so gray in Berkeley that we can barely grow tomatoes at all. Even with the problems you’ve been having, your tomatoes look darned good to me. Those first few shots on the sandwich are breathtaking – a real summer moment.

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