She’s curvy, a little plump but firm, glossy and warm after a day of sun bathing. High-paid executives may seek out the trophy wife, but for the gardener it is the tomato that fills our dreams.
Beets, carrots, and sugar snap peas might be grand but when the shovel hits the mulch, most gardeners are in it for Solanum lycopersicum.
A fruit (yes, a fruit as opposed to a vegetable), tomatoes are utilized in cuisines around the world, but trace their roots to South America. Introduction to the world isn’t firm, but historians believe that Christopher Columbus may have played a role, and thus changed the flavor of European food forever!
The perfect tomato is something to behold after a summer of toil and worry. Some gardeners fawn over their plants with concoctions and old-world traditions, while others go the tough love route, trying not to fuss with watering regimes and pest control (I’ll let you in on a secret – even those tough gardeners secretly worry!). But just like today’s ugly dog competitions, we now have more appreciation for a misshapen, spotted, or generally peculiar tomato. As long as creatures are not crawling out of it, the fruit is still sweet.
For many, the growing season is based around that moment when green transitions to orange then brilliant red and the tomato can easily be plucked from the plant.
A tomato crop is a cherished member of the family. In fact, a true sign of love and friendship is sharing a tomato – though this isn’t a wholly selfless act as the recipient is expected to buoy the gardener’s ego with praise of her horticultural prowess!
Perhaps the saddest day of the growing season comes several weeks after that joyous harvest, when plants are finished pushing out flowers to form fruit. The leaves and stems lose their sublime green coloring, becoming dry and brown. That’s the day when plants are untangled from wood trellises or wire tomato hoops, and the remains reach the compost pile.
Yet, as those days morph into winter months, the tomato gardener’s mood improves with the arrival of next season’s plant catalogs. And with this mail, so too improve the summertime hopes and dreams of coworkers, friends and entire neighborhoods.