The Taste of Tomato is an opportunity to sample tomatoes in all its stripes, colors, shapes and sizes. (Photo: Shutterstock).

Carol O'Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Boulder County – I’ll be the first to admit this has not been a good gardening year. While there was a bumper crop of garlic, the eggplant is amazing, corn is taller than the garage, and cabbage kept us in slaw, the one vegetable I judge the summer by is lacking: tomatoes.

High heat slowed fruit set and herbicide drift twisted the plants, so I’m left with living vicariously through others whose plants are producing lovely, luscious, delicious love apples. They’re putting them on salads and popping them into their mouths for a quick snack; thick slices of them rest alongside fresh mozzarella and basil.

But I’m not alone in tomato envy; other gardeners are reporting that their tomatoes were slow this year, and for that, we have Mother Nature to thank. Wet, cold, snowy weather into mid-May kept soils cold enough to slow the plant’s growth, and then extreme heat in June and July interfered with fruit set, as tomatoes don’t set fruit in temperatures above 87-degrees.

Once the weather broke and cool, moist conditions arrived, plants recovered and set fruit well. Those are sizing up and ripening but not ready yet, creating hordes of love apple-starved gardeners eager for a summer feast. The only thing keeping us from midnight raids on successful gardens to pilfer tomatoes is that we can’t figure out how to pin the blame on squirrels.

If you find yourself in the group that’s longing for love apples, head out to the Taste of Tomato in Boulder. Sponsored by Harlequin’s Gardens and Colorado State University Extension in Boulder County, the Taste of Tomato is an opportunity to sample tomatoes in all its stripes, colors, shapes and sizes.

Scheduled for Saturday, September 9, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Gateway Park, 4800 N. 28th St. in Boulder, the Taste of Tomato is where gardeners can bring their tomatoes for others to try and sample the products others are growing. Each year, tomato enthusiasts gather to taste over 70 varieties and vote on the tastiest of the lot.

Entry is free if you bring three or more medium to large tomatoes or 10 cherry tomatoes of one kind, with the variety name on a card, to donate to the tasting. All entries must be home-grown. If you have no tomatoes to bring, there will be a $5 entrance fee.

Fill up your refrigerator with produce from Thistle Whistle Farm. Donations of non-perishable food items for Community Food Share will be collected at the event, so bring along canned or boxed food.

For more information on the Taste of Tomato, visit harlequinsgardens.com/plants/edibles/vegetables/taste-of-tomato-2017.

Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, e-mail comeara@bouldercounty.org or visit ext.colostate.edu/boulder.