In Louisville, the locals traditionally observe the Kentucky Derby, the first Saturday in May, by planting their tomatoes, then coming in to have a drink and watch the race on TV. At least that's how we've done it for a long time. As a result, we generally get our first harvest on or about the Fourth of July, although one year it wasn't until my husband's birthday, July 27.
But this year, with no winter to speak of, and a spell of unseasonably warm weather in February and March, the ground warmed up early and the tomatoes went in the ground in mid-April. And today we had the first harvest, by far the earliest in Loomis family farm history!
We held a ceremonial eating and found them to be a little on the underdone side -- another day on the vine would have been much better -- but they were definitely homegrown, not hothouse, and at least it was us doing the eating and not the critters.
Last year we had terrible luck with the tomatoes, mainly because they didn't grow worth a damn, but also because those few that did survive got eaten by squirrels or chipmunks or birds or something. There is nothing so demoralizing to a gardener than to see a decent-sized vegetable lying on the driveway with one or two bites out of it, like this one from last summer.
The critters don't even seem to want the food, they just want to make sure we don't get it. This year my husband was determined that we got the first tomatoes, so as soon as these turned red he brought them in.
I hope this means we'll have bumper crops of everything this year. We ate the first zucchetta last week, and the big tomatoes, which always take longer than the little ones, are getting fat on the vine. We're keeping our fingers crossed for lots of good eats this summer.