Nothing like 35 pounds of perfectly ripe tomatoes sitting on your dining room table to make you get over your fear of canning.

Last week, I bought about 30 pounds of Valley Girls, Green Zebras and Sunbursts to add to our own humble pile of Romas that we’d grown in our backyard garden.

It was an envious bounty whose sweet, signature tang I once wasn’t so sure of. I spent my youth avoiding tomatoes at all costs, even in pizza sauce, and I think I’m still finding tomato seeds in the shoes I wore while participating in Tomatina, the world’s largest tomato fight in Bunol, Spain, in 2003.

So, I’m not quite the tomato head of some of my gardening peers, but I’m coming around to genuinely enjoying one of summer’s most beloved crops.

Tomatoes are one of the most labor-intensive, volatile and potentially lucrative of the summer crops for farmers, and with the extreme heat and drought this year, it’s been hit or miss for local growers.

Though Green Gate Farms and Johnson’s Backyard Garden are reporting bumper crops, other farmers say it’s just gotten too hot too fast for the fruit on their plants to ripen. Katie Kraemer of Tecolote Farm east of Austin says the high winds, hot temperatures and lack of rain in the past three months mean their tomatoes are sitting on the vines and not ripening with any speed at all. They are having to cut their summer community-supported agriculture program short and hoping the fall CSA will help carry them through the winter. Read the rest of the article here »