Save those tomatoes and three cheers for 'Cherokee Purple.'

Written by Doug Oster on .

'Cherokee Purple' is a wonderful heirloom tomato off the vine. It also stores well too. Photo by Doug Oster

I've been on the road a bit the last two weeks lecturing about gardening. I had two big engagements, the National Heirloom Expo in California and Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs. I was talking about tomatoes, garlic and basil. I was surprised when the crowd in California cheered at just the mention of the heirloom tomato 'Cherokee Purple.' At Seven Springs the crowd reacted in the same way.

'Cherokee Purple' is a meaty, beefsteak tomato which sets reliably, is prolific with a strong tomato flavor. It's one I grow every year. The seeds and plants are easy to find these days. It's one to put on the list to grow next year.

All those tomatoes still hanging on the vine don't need to go into the compost pile. They can be saved and can last well into winter.

Harvest what's left and put them in a bag with an apple. The apple produces a gas which promotes ripening.

I like to seperate the fruit into three categories, tomatoes with some color, just turning and still green. Store the bags in a cool dry place and check on them every few days at first, then once a week. Pull out anything that begins to rot, you'll get a couple in each bag.

There's nothing better than serving garden tomatoes on Thanksgiving.

They aren't as good as what comes right from the vine, but these tomatoes are better than anything in the supermarket.

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