There’s a rhyme that goes a little something like this.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,

Didn’t really care because he was always falling off of things. They were more concerned about how to get rid of their overabundance of tomatoes.  Being the end of Medieval tomato season and all.

Not much has changed since Medieval times. We still don’t really care when humanized eggs get drunk and fall off of walls and we’re still looking for ways to get rid of tomatoes at the end of the season.

2 years ago my local food bank didn’t even want them by the end of August.  How badly did they not want my tomatoes?  They actually said “Please don’t bring us any more tomatoes.”  Only they didn’t say please.

Even with making tomato salad every night, eating toasted tomato sandwiches and stocking up on my favourite roasted tomatoes for the winter, I still have an obscene amount of tomatoes.

I think it’s because I’m one person and I planted 839 tomato plants.

This year the neighbours, family and friends are getting them but in an attempt to make the glut of tomatoes seem more special as I pawn them off, I came up with the world’s cutest way to get rid of a surplus of tomatoes. Ironically it came to me because of a surplus of egg cartons, which people are always giving me.

It is now time to give BACK.

What to do with too many tomatoes.

A few friends were supposed to come over for pizza a few weeks ago and I wanted to send them home with some tomatoes because … well … tomatoes.  They ended up having to cancel last minute but that’s O.K. because their impending visit is what inspired me to come up with the Egg Carton Tomatoes.

What to do with too many tomatoes.

No it’s not life changing.  But it is a super-cute way to gift some of your extra tomatoes.

It’s the perfect summer hostess gift.

What to do with too many tomatoes.

Just throw a bunch of tomatoes in an egg carton, include a head of garlic if you have one, and tie it all up with string.  Top the carton with an herbal Tussie Mussie and you’re done.

What to do with too many tomatoes.

This is where I confess to writing this post, perhaps even starting this blog 8 years ago, just so I could use the term Tussie Mussie.  I don’t want to live in a world that has given up on phrases like Tussie Mussie.  Ditto that for Heavens to Betsy! 

If you’re wondering why I have SO many tomatoes by the way, part of it is because I plant WAY too many tomatoes, as I may have mentioned, and because I’m using the string method. The string method helps get rid of soil borne diseases and other annoying tomato ailments. You can read about how to do it here in this post.

Perfect summer hostess gift.

It’s tomato sauce in a box. The recipient has tomatoes, garlic, oregano and basil; all the essentials for a great tomato sauce.  Granted, because only smaller tomatoes fit in egg cartons, it’s a small serving of tomato sauce, but still.  They’re getting fresh tomatoes and you’re getting rid of fresh tomatoes.  Win, win.

All the King’s Horses and all the King’s Men agreed next year they’d plant 839 tomato plants again.








  1. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    I didn’t grow any this year…I plan to do a couple of plants next year because I have really missed them…Your little egg carton gifts are so sweet!

  2. Dave says:

    I ran into the same problem with zucchini one year. I planted several plants in my garden and it turns out one plant would have given me more than I could use. I took a box of them with me when I went to Toronto to visit a vegetarian friend of mine, thinking he’d be overjoyed. He looked at me like I was insane and said that’s more than he’d use in a lifetime. So he took what he wanted and we walked the streets of Toronto, leaving zucchini in any car we saw with an open window.
    You’re welcome.

  3. Magali says:

    Love this! Another reason why I wish I was growing tomato plants!

  4. MartiJ says:

    Thanks for all your advice, Karen. It’s been great!
    I suspect our growing season is somewhat longer here. The first frost is likely going to be in late October. I am just now heading off the blooms on the plant now. (I pull in the green tomatoes, keep them in a cold area, and they ripen for me nicely.)
    Next year.. I will stop the plant growth in late August. We figure my garden is so much better this year, if it makes that level of improvement next year, I can start canning… if I want to.

  5. Marti J says:

    I only planted four. They are all in pots, in my west-facing stairwell.
    I waited to buy my plants at Home Depot, which was later in the season than I wanted.
    One cherry tomato, one “heat resistant,” one “red pride” and one beefsteak.
    The cherry was at the bottom of the stairwell, got the least amount of sun and produced not well considering we’re talking about a cherry tomato plant.
    The beefsteak was next up.
    Next year, it gets more sun.
    The other two are closer to the top. They got more sun and each one has about 25 tomatoes at varying readiness currently.
    I learned a lot this year. Next year, they get started in the house, from seeds which I will buy early, put out earlier and position differently on the stairs. (Higher up for more sun.)
    Also, two weeks ago in Southern Maryland, a farmer gifted me with a 10 bag of rabbit poo.
    My tomato plants are carnivorous and had been happily eating rotted fish with a side of coffee grounds, but I must admit, they like the rabbit poo, too.
    So I’m going to store my soil in a large garbage bin, dump ridiculous amounts of other things in on top, during the winter months and be ready to double my crop next year. I may never buy soil again… just keep adding more rabbit poo and fish.

    • Karen says:

      Yup, that’s the way to do it. You should pinch off the tip of all the tomato plant leaders in case you haven’t already. It’s a bit late to do that now but … You’d normally do it in the middle of August to stop the plant from growing and let it focus on growing the fruit on it and ripening them. ~ k!

  6. Sandra D says:

    So green with envy – I’m in Calgary and didn’t even bother with one tomato plant this year. The hail in July would have been enough to damage them, then I was gone for 3 weeks in August (did have people who would have watered, though). The weather is fantastic these days, so I might have got away with a few plants.

  7. Robyn Moulson says:

    Karen – did not read all the comments so perhaps this has already been suggested -sorry if a repeat. I was inspired by you and planted a fairly large garden in Burnaby BC this year. Much to our delight we have had bumper crops of everything – radishes, snow and snap peas, swiss chard, lettuce and now tomatoes. Thought I would make sauce, salsa etc. then came across a simple recipe for homemade tomato juice ….to….die…..for…..No one gets any of my tomatoes now. This juice uses cherry tomatoes, heirloom wonky shaped tomatoes, beautiful regular tomatoes and anything you have . All you need is celery, onion, (salt and sugar aka stevia to taste) and you will never need to find a home for another tomato ever. I have green zebras coming ready and am looking forward to green tomato juice.
    You will love this – it can be frozen or canned. Try it you will love it Simple with celery

    • Karen says:

      Hey Robyn! So glad you planted a garden! I “do” tomatoes every year. This year I canned 40 litre jars. But I’ll take a look at the recipe and see what it’s all about. Maybe I’ll make some more. ;) ~ karen!

  8. Ken says:

    Krazee K.
    Dry the blacks, blues and browns, especially the pear, plum and cherry size.
    You will always have crusty grody looking bits of browny stuff to make anything tomatoish taste like you actually care about the people you are cooking for(not that I would share any of mine with others, I give them tomato paste or whatever, but it is your choice to change their lives forever, wrong as it is)
    I’m drying Coyotes this year. First time I had enough to do anything with.
    Dried tomato Skittles. hmm.

    • Karen says:

      Ha! I’m all out of time for food prep. I just needed to get rid of them STAT. Now … my tomatoes are pretty much diseased up and croaked. I wish I had a few tomatoes. ~ karen!

  9. Alena says:

    That’s a really cute way to gift tomatoes!

  10. Gretchen Sexton says:

    I need to be your neighbor….just sayin’

  11. jaine kunst says:

    I’m with Erin on keeping all of my 16 heirloom tomatoes this year. We’ve had so much rain and not enough hot days that I am going to enjoy eating every single tomato myself (when or if they ever ripen). Next year I’m going with your string method and maybe I will have more tomatoes and can try your egg carton idea which is so clever.

  12. KimS says:

    Wish I could give all my egg cartons to someone…anyone!!

  13. Thanks for reminding me about “Heavens to Betsy!” I’ve been using “For Pete’s sake!” long enough that I’ve been actively looking for a replacement expression, one appropriate to use around the younger kiddos in our life.

  14. kathy says:

    Those are damn fine looking tomatoes.

  15. Jody says:

    Heavens to Murgatroyd, that’s a brilliant idea.
    Tussie Mussie were started in the Victorian era as a coy way of expressing feelings through flowers. According to the Language of Flowers, basil represents hatred and oregano represents birth.
    Not really sure what message you were going for with your tussie mussie other than Go Cook and Enjoy!

  16. Sandra Blackwell says:

    I never have left over tomatoes, cause I don’t like them. I planted tomatoes one year when I was taking care of my mom. She had lots of space, and liked tomatoes, as does the grandest girl. Sadly, mom died before the tomatoes were ripe. No one ate those tomatoes, and I don’t plant them any more.

  17. Linda says:

    Mavis, Winnie and Blue want to hear how their friends in your coop are doing. Haven’t heard from them in a long while. Braaaaawk!!

  18. Marilyn says:

    839 tomato plants? Really? One year (a long time ago) I planted 50. My relatives were filling up the trunks of their cars, not even in boxes, except in the back seat, which had boxes on the floor and on the seat, right to the ceiling. This year only a few plants, but I have enough for several good size pots of tomato soup. For me, freezing them whole is the way to go.

    Just wondering … do you have a favourite home made tomato soup recipe? I must check your site for one, but would be good to see a tomato soup (re)post/update if you have one.

    Unrelated to tomatoes … how about some info on sour cherries? Do you grow them? The newer cultivars out of U of Saskatchewan, released in 2005 are marvellous. My first choice is ‘Romeo’. It is flavourful, makes the best pies, and sweet enough for fresh eating. It has a compact bush habit, insects and birds don’t appear to bother it, extremely hardy, and yields profusely. Cherries are dark red, a good size and have small pits.

    I must admit that pitting cherries is the pits, so time consuming, but some Russian guy on YT tested out several cherry pitters, and I bought the ‘Leifheit Cherry Stoner’. It feeds cherries through a hopper, one by one into position, and you manually punch out the pits using the built in plunger. I freeze all my cherries whole, but at the partially thawed out stage they are firmer and go through the pitter much cleaner.

    Sour cherries cost a small fortune to buy, so planting a bush or two pays off very nicely.

    Yes, Karen, I ‘like to sweat, swear and do stuff’. This is the best go-to blog ever.

    • Sorina says:

      Hey Marylin, can you please please tell me where you bought the sour cherry bushes from?

      • Marilyn says:

        Hi Sorina, Do you live in Canada? What province? In the west, most greenhouse garden centre operations stock these every spring. I am not sure about east of Manitoba, but just search ‘buy sour cherry bushes Canada” and you should get loads of websites. I got mine from Aubin Nurseries in Manitoba, but my neighbours got theirs from a local nursery here in Edmonton. Let me know if you need more info.

  19. MaryJo says:

    Honestly, that is one of the cutest ideas that I’ve seen in a while. Way to go, Karen!

  20. Now, to come up with a way to fit a 900 pound zucchini into an egg carton.

  21. Eileen says:

    Send address and I will come pick tomatoes. I’ve had a miserable tom. year.

  22. teri C says:

    That’s an insane amount of tomato plants girl! I grow heirlooms in Indiana and 35 different varieties is enough for 2 of us to enjoy, freeze, roast, giveaway! addictive tho!

  23. ElenG says:

    Actually, that is pretty durn cute. But my eye kept wandering to the jar of twine and how neatly you were controlling the crazy that twine balls can be if left unfettered. Score! and Score!

  24. Meredith says:

    I didn’t have a great tomato year here. But typically I do, and at the end of summer, I make spicy tomato jam and can it. Sooo good on a cheese plate and our favorite way is on little mini meatloves in the winter. Lots of recipes, but the best ones use some super aged balsamic vinegar in there. Yum. I don’t even bother coring, peeling, nothing. Just dice and cook down.

    • Karen says:

      That sounds good. And now makes me want to have something with chili sauce (cause that’s the closest thing I have to tomato jam at the moment) on it for dinner. `~ karen!

  25. Mary W says:

    Your packaging is delightful! Your tomatoes look so tasty. How I wish I was a neighbor – even before our current President! Wonder where the word tussie mussie comes from – sounds like an interesting story. Packaging always makes a gift more special and you are a packaging princess. (Queen just doesn’t sound fun enough.)

  26. erin says:

    My tomato crop is at least 3 weeks behind this year with all the rain and cold nights we’ve had. I’m guarding my ripe tomatoes like a mad woman. That being said, I’m almost tempted to try this gift using the plastic egg cartons folks return to us.
    Love the tussie mussie.

  27. Very cute. Just so you know, I have been making your roasted tomatoes every single day , I do mean every day! My freezer will be filled with them. They are so easy and so versatile and probably won’t last long. Thanks so much for the inspiration and ideas.

  28. Sabina Missana says:


  29. marilyn meagher says:

    That is so sweet. And I’m with ya on the tussie mussie.

  30. Monica says:

    Just a thought, since I think I remember you storing your eggs on the counter.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Monica! She might be a little more committed to food safety than I am. She washes her eggs with vinegar before using them. ~ karen!

  31. Susan says:

    I was complaining to the librarian yesterday about a plethora of tomatoes and she said, “freeze them!” Well, duh! I didn’t know you could freeze tomatoes whole. She said to wash them, put them in a freezer bag and forget them until you need tomato sauce for something. Just run them under hot water and the skin will peel right off. I put 6 fresh tomatoes under the broiler for 10 minutes the other , the skin lifted right off and I made chili. Never has chili been so good. I just wish my zucchinis had kept up with my eating, my mother used to freeze them and use them instead of water to make minestrone soup. Of course, her garden was like yours, Karen, but mine is just pots , fish tubs and a millions of potatoes (not!) box I built.

    • Karen says:

      Freezing tomatoes whole is great. I still have an entire Tupperware container in my freezer from last year’s frozen tomatoes. I really need to start planting less tomatoes, lol. ~ karen!

  32. Claudia says:

    I’ve never lived anywhere where people overshare their garden bounties. Must be that New England standoffishness. Sigh.

  33. Kate says:

    I can’t think of a nicer gift – even if I have an abundance of tomatoes myself!

  34. Jody Boswell says:

    I would love to receive that cute gift!! Animals like to party in my garden so a fence will be going up for next year. Where should I meet you at Christie for my gift??

  35. Ev Wilcox says:

    This reminds me of a cute story I read about church parking lots. The church goers in a small farming area begin putting up their windows and locking their cars when it is garden harvest time. If they don’t, they will find zucchinis and tomatoes in their cars from generous (and maybe desperate) gardeners when church is over! Your idea of using the egg carton is a very good one though!

  36. Hazel says:

    I’m with Kennedy- never enough tomatoes! I’ve been dehydrating those we can’t eat fresh.

    So I haven’t been giving away tomatoes but I also have a Leaning Tower of Pisa of egg boxes which drives my husband mad but I can’t say no because then people might stop giving me stuff! So I’ve used mine to package homemade fire starters (the pretty ones made with a fir cone); homemade chocolate truffles; my Rainbow unit to all package the chocolate truffles they made for Father’s Day… I think they look great :-) But I still have a mountain of egg boxes!

  37. Kennedy says:

    I planted 46 tomato plants this year and we have a bumper crop all around.

    I still don’t have enough tomatoes.

    If I planted 132 tomato plants I would say the same thing – not enough tomatoes.

  38. ~gloria says:

    Love this idea. Do they make egg cartons for ostrich eggs? Because I have a zucchini glut going here. Also, I used the term tussie mussie once and immediately grew another head, in the eyes of the person I was talking to.

  39. Judy says:

    Seriuosly Karen, How many do you plant? I am retiring soon and starting my dream retirement garden – for just 2 of us tomato lovers and yes, I’d love to feed the hungry but it is also a lot of work! I’m retiring – not starting another career. A few years ago (when we had kids to feed) I planted 98 tomato plants. I had visions of tomato heaven – but frost hit before they ripened. I was sooo disappointed. I picked them green and stored them in a cold basement. We were still eating fresh tomatoes the following January, but they were a little woody in the centre from picking them so green. If you could give me a hint about how many you plant for 1 tomato lovin’ crazy person then I should be able to gauge how many to plant for 2. Thanks a bunch.

    • Karen says:

      Oh no that wouldn’t give you a good gauge at all, lol. I plant too many tomatoes. I plant 15-18 paste tomatoes for making sauce and canning each fall. And I also plant 15-20 other varieties (mostly heirlooms) just for fun. So no. I am definitely NOT a good gauge, lol. If you want your tomatoes all at once and resistant to disease plant a newer, hybrid variety. If you want less tomatoes and them stretched out over a longer period of time (they won’t stop producing until the frost hits them) them go for heirloom varieties. They are less resistant to disease and can grow to 9′ tall. If you only want a couple of tomatoes to pick every once in a while 2 people only truly need 2 tomato plants but .. that’s not the route I would go. ;) ~ karen!

      • Judy says:

        Thanks Karen! and everyone one else with suggestions…..2 plants definitely is not enough. If they matured all at once we would be done devouring them in a week. Soooo….If you grow 30 to 40 plants and have enough for 1 crazy tomato lovin’ person then I think I can plan for a max of 30 for the 2 of us. That should get me started. House hunting starts in a couple of weeks! I wonder what the realtor is going to think when I want to see the back garden first!

  40. Kathleen Aberley says:

    I’ll take some… oh wait! I live too far away. Damn.
    Looks lovely, Karen.

  41. Martina says:

    Yup, this year I am the recipient of way tooo many 🍅 ‘s…I just moved and haven’t even found all of my pots yet…so, please…no more 🍅 ‘s‼️

  42. Elaine says:

    Gee, I wish I was your neighbor!!! I live in the same town but not right next to you, unfortunately. That’s such a cute way to package extra tomatoes!

  43. Jani Wolfe says:

    This brings back memories of my over abundance of tomatoes and my neighbors stopped answering their doorbell. Thank God for plastic grocery bags because when they didn’t answer I would hang that bag right on their door knob! I swear every year that I am only going to plant two tomato plants but we know how that goes!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *