A Passion for Tomatoes


Post by community member:

As I sit in the corner of the front room, working on my computer, the corner of my eye catches the blackbirds attacking the squirrels running on the fencetop. The birds actually knock them off a few times–must definitely be a nest with babies close to the squirrels’ path. At least two different kinds of wrens and an oriole are working over the flowers on the sour cherry tree–bloom after bloom wistfully floating to the ground. Must be nature’s way of thinning the berries, I think to myself. I find myself straining to look over the computer at the garden beds and realize there is some serious work that I need to get done to plant my tomatoes.

My view from the computer.

Tomatoes–one of the passions of my life. Some people think of those globe shaped balls–that must be red–when I too often talk of tomatoes. I practically drool as I think of my “babies” waiting to be planted in the garden for this year. I’m growing over 50 varieties. I had to cut back from 80 because some of the garden is now going to be a strawberry bed (DH wins that one!). My yard isn’t super big, but I have found that one really doesn’t need as much grass as they think they do–especially when tomatoes are at the focus of the gardening. “One can’t eat grass” is my motto. I know that I’ve taken for granted my insight and love of tomatoes and almost assume people understand me when I talk of whites, greens, purples, pinks, and use words like heirloom and hybrid. Sometimes I struggle inside to understand why they aren’t as excited to talk about tomatoes as I am–and don’t also have a file just for tomato articles and lists!

A few varieties that I’ve grown–beautiful colors!

Blending colors and flavors for canning.

Five years ago my eyes were opened to the world of heirlooms, and I felt like I had found tomato heaven. The different flavours, sizes, colors, shapes–a paradise of deliciousness and excitement! Gardening isn’t just for food anymore. It is for pleasure that I can up and have year round. Learning the nuances of the different flavours has turned eating a tomato into savouring a tomato. The various textures are amazing. And, something that has struck me deeply, saving history with seed saving is an honour. Knowing that some, often unknown, person has carefully preserved, season after season, the delicate seeds to keep a variety historically viable and that I, too, can be part of this legacy. It is not a private club just for the privileged. Pilgrims and farmers for centuries have sustained and embraced these amazing varieties.

Varieties kept separate to seed save before canning.

I think to myself, Time to get out there and start the process again, as I smile, slide out of my chair, and head for the back door.

You can also find Moopsee at Yahoo’s Canning2.

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  1. GrannyTrace says:

    love love tomatoes tooo!! Loved your post..thanks for sharing..so looking forward to my tomatoes too!!

  2. CindyP says:

    Great post, Moopsee!

    Where in the world do you plant 50 different varieties of tomatoes? Wow! But I bet they are beautiful! I can’t wait for the tomatoes to start producing….mmmmmmm….I wish we could preserve a fresh tomato to stay fresh for the middle of winter 🙂

  3. glenda says:

    What beauties! I grow heirlooms too, but have never tried the greens.

    My poor plants have been ready to go in the ground so long it will be like planting small trees!

    We have had way too much rain and cold. Now we have way too hot, 90° yesterday.

    Today is the day….in the ground at last.

  4. Dede ~ wvhomecanner says:

    Great post Mel! Now my mouth is watering for a Real tomato, not the imposters of Winter and Spring. Your canning pot looks beautiful with that mixture!

  5. Moopsee says:

    I have taken longer than usual to plant because we have been too cold as well. And tonight a sneaky cold night is coming – 40 degrees F with 20 mph winds. Not good for the tomatoes. I’m hoping it is the last one.

    I plant to the right side of the picture and to the left of the one that is the view from my computer. Cinderblock lined beds on the right and wood beds at the back left.

  6. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    Love this post! I usually grow 4 different varieties and can all I can each summer. I even grow a yellow variety in honor of a fried who passed away several years ago. She always asked me to plant her one yellow plant and all summer my husband would take the yellow tomatoes to her at work. I still plant that one yellow tomato plant and I give all the tomatoes from it away to friends now. I never kept a single yellow tomato while she was alive but I still can’t seem to stop planting that one plant each year that she always nagged at me to plant for her :).

  7. JudyJ says:

    Love your post!! You are an amazing friend and counselor. You have taught me the joy of gardening and seed saving over the last 2+ years. I have even found the joy of growing tomatoes and I hate frest tomatoes. LOL!!

  8. David says:

    I have about a dozen varieties this year and most in bloom already.

  9. rephiddy says:

    I thought waiting as long as I did I would be the last to have my tomatoes in the ground. But, I see you were later than me due to the bad weather. And, I hope the weather tonight doesn’t do your babies any harm.

    Great posting about heirlooms. Btw you and some of the others on C2 I have had my eyes opened to what is a heirloom tomatoes. I can hardly wait for this year’s harvest.

    Thanks Melanee.

    ON, Canada

  10. Darlene says:

    What a wonderful post. I enjoyed all of it.

  11. debnfla3 says:

    I love the pictures of your ‘maters! I have 6 plants this year. I have had so much fun with them so far, love the sweet taste of home grown tomatoe’s. Daddy used to plant 6 rows of tomatoes for our family and his roses were 100 ft long! We all loved them….LOL
    I would love to try my hand at the heirlooms next year. How do you go about getting the seeds to grow them?

  12. David says:

    I have a number of sources –
    http://www.uniquetomatoseeds.com (this is Melanee’s internet company)

    I have no financial interest in any of these but I have known Melanee for several years and have been a regular customer.

    These have been reliable sources for me.

    Beyond those I next would look to seed swaps with other interested tomato freaks.

  13. Jennifer says:

    Moopsee, I would love to grow some heirloom tomatoes, but usually dont have a lot of luck growing “regular” tomatoes… any good tips for a beginner and do you have to start the heirlooms by seed or can you find well established plants at nurseries or garden centers? If so, do you know anywhere I could find them in NH??

  14. LauraP says:

    The subtle nuances of flavor – that’s it exactly! A seedsman who lives nearby frequently invites several of us over for tastings in the summer. Yum. Kind of makes up for having to limit myself to a dozen or so varieties here.

  15. Moopsee says:

    Growing heirlooms often starts for many people looking at their garden center or nursery. As long as it doesn’t say F1 or hybrid, it should be heirloom or open-pollinated(op). That is where to start! You can easily call the different ones in your area and see what they have for heirloom or OP in order to save some time. The cherry Yellow Pear is probably the most common one here. I like to go for bigger middle size ones. Cherokee purple and Rutgers are great ones more commonly available.

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