Tomato harvest

My husband Bill and I picked our first decent harvest of paste tomatoes yesterday. We're growing 'Italian Pompeii' from Renee's Garden Seeds and 'San Marzano' from Botanical Interests (Northwest Seed & Pet sells them) and they're all doing great.

Since we harvested a manageable amount -- close to 10 pounds -- we decided to roast them in the oven along with peppers, onions, garlic, Italian herbs and a few cherry tomatoes as well. Once they came out of the oven, we pureed them using our immersion blender and froze the sauce in containers for future use. When we start harvesting larger quantities of tomatoes, we'll process them into sauce and juice, and then can them in jars rather than fill our freeze with wall-to-wall tomatoes. After all, the freezer also needs to hold green beans, corn, diced onions, Swiss chard and several types of berries.

As I mentioned last week, it's important to pinch back the tips of tomato plants and vining veggies like winter squash, cucumbers and pumpkins. That way, the plants will focus their energy on ripening the existing fruits so you will have something to harvest this fall.