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Plants have officially taken over the dining room.  If the weather stays warm, we will have an enormous tomato crop! Some favorites on the table include: Sweet Chelsea, Red Jelly Bean, Bella Rosa, Big Beef and many more.

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We picked our first  homegrown tomatoes last week. 

The large cherry variety,  Sweet Chelsea, are always the first to ripen and remind me why I grow my own.  So much flavor!

Can’t wait until the larger varieties mature.  Til then I’m buying and eating wonderful tomatoes from Carden Farms,  the new produce, plant, arts and crafts market on the main street in Apex, NC

Carden Farms sells real tomatoes.  Grown for eating (not stacking in truck beds), they are red-ripe and not too perfect, which is a good thing in the tomato world.   

A few years ago I stopped buying tomatoes at the State Farmers Market because they were all  uniform, unblemished and looked like they belonged in the grocery store.  Summer tomatoes should never be firm enough to pack in layers or sit for a couple of days. 

Thank you Carden Farms for saving my favorite summer meal–the tomato sandwich.  

I also like Carden Farms because they stock locally grown plants, trees and shrubs.   Local plants grow better locally.  AND buying locally grown plants  supports local plants people who are a great source of regional  info and products. 

Finally, Carden Farms, owners Carol Willis and her husband Dennis sell  the work of local artists and crafts people like me. 

Carol did the craft show circuit for years with her luscious  handmade soaps and she’s a really artist-friendly vendor.  Stop in and see my Kiki’s Rewind Designs.  And by all means buy  some real  tomatoes.  

I know you’re suppose to eat them with Duke’s mayo and soft white bread, but blog partner Melissa has me hooked on Laughing Cow Spreadable Swiss.  Great stuff on toast with a big slice of mater and lots of salt and pepper.  You’ll save enough calories to have a  nice cool desert.

Happy summer!


 

When I give tomato plants to kids, I always give them cherry tomatoes.  They grow and grow, produce a ton of fruit and don’t have many problems. 

And of all the cherry tomatoes I have grown–Sweet Chelsea is the best.  The fruit is big, the plants,   healthy, and trouble-free.  The leaves are even greener than my other tomato plants.   And Sweet Chelsea plants grow and grow–giving me a bowl full  of big- flavor tomatoes every 2 or three days. 

That’s a lot of tomatoes.  But I can use them all.  I love to slow roast these lovely tomatoes and enjoy them all year round. 

Cherry tomatoes are good candidates for roasting.  They have thin skins and not much water inside.  Here’s how I cook my Sweet Chelsea tomatoes and turn them into my favorite Summer Tomato Jam. 

Sweet Chelseas before roasting

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • Wash tomatoes and drain them dry on a kitchen towel
  • Cut each tomato in half.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, 1 tsp sugar
  • Cover a cookie sheet with foil, then spray with cooking spray
  • Place tomato halves cut side up and roast until cooked but not crispy=about 1 hour and 40 minutes. 
  • Cool and cover with olive oil (and spices if you like.  Oregano is nice.) then refrigerate or freeze for later. 

    After roasting an hour and 40 min. Next step--toss in oil and refrigerate or freeze.

I use these in pasta, on pizza or as topping for crackers and toast.  The flavor is great.  People rave. 

For Sweet Chelsea seed, go to Superseed.com.  Plant them indoors mid–March.  The rest is easy.   Or pick up some extra plants at my tomato party next year.  There are always extra Sweet Chelsea  plants to share.

A long-time gardener and a passionate beginner share the dirt on their NC gardens-

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