Heirloom Tomatoes in Bend, Oregon!?!

This small story will have to fall into the category of personal interest/artistic distractions.  First of all, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m an avid gardener.  I grow  perennial flowers annual flowers, and vegetables.  As a child growing up in the southeast United States, my family always had a tomato garden and I have grand memories of picking big plump tomatoes off of the vine and eating them like apples.  Eventually I went to college and then grad school where I first planted my own garden.   At the time, I was in Alabama, where the warm humid climate allowed me to create a vegetable jungle.  Eventually my wife, Debbie and I moved to the much cooler high desert of Bend, Oregon.  Gardening in Bend is an entirely different story!  Cold summer nights frustrate many tomato growers in Central Oregon’s High Desert.  In the past, I’ve had great success growing cherry tomatoes( I harvested over 3,000 last year) in my little downtown garden but never larger, slower ripening varieties. This past spring, I devised a plan to what I thought was nearly impossible, grow heirloom brandywine tomatoes in Bend, Oregon( without a green house).  My re-occurring, swing for the fence mentality took over.  I removed my daughter’s long unused fort and a couple of dead trees.  In their place, I built four raised cedar garden beds filled with radishes, carrots,zucchini, squash, cucumbers, peppers, borage,marigolds,nasturtiums and most importantly heirloom tomatoes, such as brandywine, stupice, black branydwine, cherokee purple, Paul Robeson, Caspian Pink and sungolds.  Below is a photo of my crowning achievement to date, a one day harvest of heirloom tomatoes!

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

While my harvest is far from complete, it has already been worthwhile, just because of the plate full of beautiful heirloom tomatoes you see above.  Debbie, our daughter, Emma and I carefully sliced, and ate each of the beautiful heirlooms you see, all in the same sitting!  They were as delicious as they are beautiful.  While, the heirlooms had to be eaten, I thought the photo was worth sharing , even if it isn’t exactly landscape photography.  Included in this image are Stupice tomatoes,Black Brandywines, pink brandywines, and sungolds.

Part of my passion for both landscape photography and gardening lies in the concept that the harvest has a sense of terroir.  The landscape print or the heirloom tomato are a product of the soil, moisture, daylight and location which spawned them.  With a beautiful landscape print, one is visualizing a sense of place and with an heirloom tomato, one is tasting that same place.  I love our little home, our little family, and our little town.  Below is a photo of my personal terroir with my wife, Debbie Putnam( who is 5’8″) next to our new raised garden beds and who appears to be in danger of being eaten by zucchini! and heirloom tomatoes!

Raised Garden Beds

Raised Garden Beds

Thanks for indulging my aberration from landscape photography and I hope you like my image of heirloom tomatoes 1/2 as much as I enjoy growing them!

Mike

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