I spent some time this morning going back through several years of our CSA packing lists and newsletters for late May — all the way back to 2006. But I couldn’t find another year when we had tomatoes in your boxes by this early date. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no Terra Firma subscriber has ever seen a tomato in their box in May.
There are almost always a few ripe tomatoes in our fields this time of year, just about enough for a few sandwiches or a salad every few days. But to send them along to you, we need several hundred pounds, and I believe the earliest date that’s ever happened before was June 10th, in 2008. That makes 2013 a full two weeks earlier than the previous “earliest tomato year” and a full three weeks sooner than last year.
This pleasant anomaly is not due to any new growing technique or technology we discovered. We still grow our tomatoes the same way we have for over a decade: grown in the greenhouse in January and February, transplanted outside in early March, and protected from freezing with sprinklers on cold nights. The difference this year is the weather: constant above average temperatures and sunshine almost every day since the plants went in the ground.
Unlike with strawberries, an early start to the season doesn’t usually mean an early end. An early, rainy October could always end the season, but that would still give us a solid 17 weeks of tomato goodness. So enjoy your “bonus tomatoes” this week, they are just the start. Small boxes will get some next week.