So here’s my big, dark gardening secret: I hate tomatoes. I mean I loathe them. I think they are the most repulsive, awful thing in the world. And oh my, do I hate myself for it. I want to like them so badly. They are so beautiful, and healthy, and versatile. They are easy to grow and a dream to cook with. And I am so jealous of those of you who love them. Every year I promise myself “This is the year! This is the year I will learn to love tomatoes!” And, alas, it never comes true.
I just think they’re gross. The texture, the flavor- it doesn’t matter how they are prepared. Fresh off the vine, cooked to nothingness in a sauce, sun-dried…hell, I don’t even like ketchup! But I grow them every year, because how can you not grow tomatoes?! Usually it’s 2 or 3 plants, but then I tell the chef at an Italian restaurant that I’ll grow a garden for him…
We have, and I finally planted the last of them yesterday, 89 tomato plants (Yes. The unevenness of that number makes me cringe- I think I’ll have to cram an odd one in somewhere just so I can say 90). EIGHTY NINE. That is so many tomatoes…so many. They are still small now, but I know in a month I’ll be out in that garden cursing and weeping as I try to keep up with the trimming and the trellising and the horn worms. But my screams will not be heard as I am lost forever in a tomato forest!
Anyway, I’m digressing! When Jeff asked what varieties we should grow I just wrinkled my nose and threw a Totally Tomatoes catalog at him. He got the message. He ordered the seeds, his stepmom started them for us, and I had not a care in the world about them until they all made their way over to my house and I stood and looked at them and went “OH MY GOD! WHY ARE THERE SO MANY!?”
I informed him, nicely of course, that there was no %&^&%# way they were all going to fit, so he said variety was more important. I chose the best looking 12 or 15 of each variety (or less, if we had less) and planted those. The rest have been slowly given away (or grown spindly and sad on that same picnic table- WOULD YOU LIKE SOME TOMATOES?!).
We are growing many different varieties this year- I have about a dozen+ plants of each variety, though two have quite a few less. They are:
Sungolds (of course!)- the ubiquitous and wonderful cherry tomato and one of the few I have ever managed to eat without wanting to barf all over the garden.
Sungellas– a hybrid of sungold that produces “golf ball sized” fruits
Azoychka– a bright yellow Russian variety
Arkansas Traveler– a medium-sized standard red
Rainbow– a large-fruited orange tomato with red spots and streaks
Black– another Russian variety with mahogany colored fruits
Black Sea Man– yet another Russian variety, this one with dark green skin and pink shoulders
Rose (though I only have three of these)- a beautiful pink Amish variety that is similar in texture and flavor to Brandywine (the only tomato I have ever eaten that I actually LIKED).
And finally, a mysterious variety labeled “HR.” I have no idea what that means- any guesses?
So far there are lots of fruits on the Sungolds and one rather large fruit on the Rose. All of them are flowering with the exception of the Black Sea Man and the “HRs” which were the ones neglected until yesterday. Everyone seems to be really happy so far, with the bizarre exception of a few plants (in totally random locations) that are being nibbled on by some critter. We have lots of deer out here, but I didn’t think they would do anything to tomatoes- maybe I’m wrong?
The few plants that have been nibbled on are in totally random spots and only three are next to each other. This happened about a week and a half ago and I haven’t seen any other bites. Only two or three branches were eaten off each of them (though of course they were usually my main growing branches). Anyone seen this before with theirs?
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