Tuesday, August 3, 2010


"Thank you for coming and bringing your beautiful tomatoes. I'd pay any price for them! You're beautiful too and always so friendly & helpful."

"How can you sleep at night charging those prices for your tomatoes!"

Those were some of the comments we heard at market today at East York (Toronto) Civic Centre. Obviously the praise is easy to accept & enjoy. The other kind of comments are a little more difficult to hear.

We take our tomatoes seriously here at Thiessen Farms.
Since the first seeds were so hopefully planted way back in February, our tomatoes have received daily attention & nurturing...
-hauling warm water from the house so the tender seedlings will not be shocked with a cold shower and set back.
-careful mixing of fish fertilizer for proper nutrition & chamomile tea for fungal protection.
-a final check on a cold winter's night to make sure the heating cables are working & warm.
-venting the plastic on a sunny, winter day so the plants don't fry.
-closing the plastic as the clouds gather and the temperature drops.
-doing it all again & again each day.
-moving young tomato plants outside on trailers to harden off on warm spring days, then moving them into the barn for night.
-preparing the soil for transplanting and picking an overcast day to finally plant them outside.
-watching for disease & insects, weeding, cultivating, mulching, staking, tying...
and now... finally... harvesting!!
And what a harvest it is. The crop is generous and the fruit is ripening like gangbusters.

 Our display at market is large and colourful - and sales are good!

We are growing more than 100 varieties this season - all sizes, shapes and colours. Most of them are heirloom or heritage varieties, except for some of the smaller cherry & grape tomatoes. Some we have grown for many years like Sungold, Green Zebra, Old Flame, Carmello, Doublerich, and Green Grape. Some we try just for the name - Bloody Butcher, Orange Banana, Red Striped Roman, Moneymaker, Mennonite. How about Tartar of Mongolistan, Cherokee Purple, Djena Lee's Golden Girl or Malakhitovaya Shkatulka.

We try to grow as many colours as possible in small, medium and large sizes - but not the really huge ones. Heirloom tomatoes are a lot of fun! Heirlooms tomatoes can also be heartbreakers. They easily catch diseases, don't always produce a big crop, can crack & split in the rain or even the morning dew and go soft very quickly. But the taste is usually incredible! "They taste like a tomato should taste" is the comment we often hear. Customers return week after week to purchase more tomatoes, admiring our display, and just "talking tomatoes" with us.

In the end it's all worthwhile!

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