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Gray June equals green tomatoes

POULSBO — Fried green tomatoes may have been good enough for Tinseltown, but the unripe veggies didn’t make the cut in Little Norway as the second annual Poulsbo Farmers Market Tomato Taste Off was postponed Saturday.

Event organizers moved the event from last year’s late September date to late August in hopes that Mother Nature would provide enough heat and sunshine to bring out the bright red delights.

However, a disappointed but not totally surprised PFM Market Manager Jackie Aitchison said the group will try again Sept. 17 as long as the weather stays warm and sunny with less than a sprinkling of cool, cloudy days.

“It was so cool in June and even into July,” Aitchison commented as she reflected on what has been, by all accounts, an unusual summer, weatherwise.

The mercury didn’t reach 80 degrees consistently until this month when there were 16 days of 80 degrees or hotter weather, which compares to nine days of such weather in May, June and July.

“Last year’s event was a great success and we’re hoping for more of the same this year,” she said.

However, while outdoor tomatoes may be late in ripening, Aitchison said hoop houses and green houses are about the only way to enjoy ripe Early Girls and Beef Masters but the others are on their way.

“I’ve got some cherry tomatoes at home that are turning red but no other tomatoes,” she remarked, noting that she is cautiously optimistic about the weather despite cooler than usual temperatures this past weekend.

When the majority of the tomatoes in the North End receive enough sunshine and warmth to bring out their best shades of red, judges will be ready to pick a grand prize winner out of four different categories, who will win $100, she said.

“We’re going to have slicing, cherry, paste and salad tomato categories but there will be only one grand prize winner,” she explained. First prize winners of each category will receive prizes as well.

One of the great things about tomatoes is that they can be grown almost anywhere, she said.

“There’s all different ways to grow them and they do really well in containers,” she explained.

While different people swear by different tomatoes for different reasons, Aitchison stopped short of guaranteeing which ones will be ready for the Sept. 17 contest.

“I think the individual plants will decide what they’re going to do, but a couple of nice weeks of 80-degree weather will do,” she said.

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