If you’re anything like me, every year, after long dreary winter months, I look forward to the arrival of the first ripe tomato. In the beginning of the planting season I get very excited and plant a lot of tomatoes. I mean a lot. And then I wait. But then before I know it, my tomatoes become ripe and I have more than I know what to do with. And of course, I usually have no plan for the overabundance of tomatoes that I now have in my garden. Sound familiar?
This year I want to try to be a better steward with my garden. Here’s a few questions I asked myself. Do we eat cherry tomatoes? How many cherry tomato plants do we really need? In my family, we eat a lot of cherry tomatoes. Most of our tomato eating takes place while we are working in the garden and we just pluck them off the vine and enjoy. I don’t think too many of them actually make it to the kitchen!
Do I want slicers? BLT’s sound great, but how many slicer’s do we need to plant? Are we going to make our own tomato sauce this year? What are our families favorites? Do I want to experiment with new varieties or just stay with the family favorites that we are familiar with? This year will be a different year for us to consider as my husband and I are expecting a baby mid-July. For some reason I’m thinking I may not be as interested in spending any extra time trying to figure out what to do with all the extra tomatoes this year (though right now I’m ambitious!)
It seems like every year I get overly eager to plant and then time seems to fly by and before I know it I’m witnessing rotting tomatoes before I can do anything about it!
As you prepare the garden (some of you have already been able to), think about the following ideas on what you can do with your abundant tomato harvest.
- Share with family and friends.
What makes a better gift than giving a bowl full of freshly picked tomatoes? Make someone’s night by dropping off fresh tomatoes that can be used for their dinner. Sharing the fruits of your own hard work with someone else is priceless.
- Sell at your local farmers market.
If you have a local farmers market and an overabundance of tomatoes (or any vegetable for this matter), why not set up a road side stand or a table at the farmers market? It’s a great way to make a little extra money and provide healthy food for those in your community. Seems like a win-win to me! (Plus, it’s great to involve your kids in this, letting them see how hard work can pay off.)
- Donate to a local food shelter.
Providing fresh, homegrown vegetables to your local food shelter will bring rewards beyond what you can imagine. It’s a great way to help those in need get a nutritional, flavorful vegetable in their diet.
- Make salsa as a family.
A few years back, our entire family, including grandparents, kids and great-grandkids, spent a day at my parents making salsa together. It was a great time! Sure it was a lot of work, but we divided up the tasks and worked together as a family, sharing laughs and tears (just when we cut up the onions). Not only did we make memories that day, but we were all able to share in the fruits of our labor by enjoying our salsa for the months to come. It doesn’t just have to be salsa, pick something as a family to make.
Right now I’m longing to see that first ripe tomato, to pluck it off and pop it in my mouth. But I’m hoping that this year I can be a better steward of the bounty that God gives us! If you have additional ideas that you or your family does, please share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.