Sunday, May 07, 2006

Tomato dreaming

Went out and bought this year's tomato crop yesterday - it feels a little early to put them in, but we're leaving town for two weeks and I knew that all the heirloom varieties I wanted would be long gone from the retail arena by the time I got back. This, it turns out, was true - I still missed a few I wanted, and had slim pickings on a couple others. You non-tomato growers have no idea what a ravenous crowd we are.

My gardening activities are supposed to be somewhat scaled-back this year, giving my impending motherhood. Even so, I just can't not grow tomatoes. I went to the garden center intending to just buy a few modest plants and somehow bought even more than last year. My nod to practicality, though, is that:

  • I tried to buy mostly early varieties - maybe I'll get to eat a few before giving birth
  • I bought several very small varieties that don't need huge cages and gigantic pots
  • They all have to fit on my front porch.

That last part is the key. I'm not going to be able to handle watering things in the front and back of the house every day this summer. Plus the tomatoes on the porch (south-facing, and against a wall) did tons better than the tomatoes in the backyard last year, producing far more and more flavorful fruit.

I figure even in my eighth and ninth months I should be able to stagger out the front door and turn a hose on some pots. Right? Why do I hear the laughter of experienced mothers everywhere? Just because I'll give birth before half of them ripen? Because watering anything will be the last thing on my mind when it's hot out and I'm as big as a house?

Well you may be right. But whatever hobbies or parts of my life to date I'm willing to give up or try to do less of to have the kid, this is one annual ritual I'm hoping to hold on to.

Here's what we're growing this year:

(excuse the gigantic space here that I can find no reason for in the raw HTML and scroll down to the table below)

Two Silvery Firs - the only one I got two of, because they're perfect for small pots. Somehow, this tiny little plant that only gets to be about a foot high grows a huge amount of full-size tomatoes, relatively early in the season. It was one of my best last year.
Great White - How cool is this? I went back a second day to get one of these, after reading up on it a little bit. You can make white pasta sauce with these babies. You can bet I'll be doing that.
One Stupice - a potato-leave variety I've been wanting to try for years, but which disappears with lightning speed at the tomato sales each year. This year, I was only able to get a somewhat sickly-looking speciman because again, rabid Seattle tomato-growers had cleaned them out. But I'm hoping it recovers.
One Green Zebra - another I've been trying to buy for years and always finding empty flats of. Got one! Yay! Never tasted one, but they're supposed to be great.
Sungold - my favorite cherry tomato. I should've gotten two but they're just such huge plants; I couldn't justify it now that I'm trying to do all my tomato gardening on the porch.
Seattle's Best - also new for me, and one I've been trying to get for a few years. I figure with a name like that, I should give it a shot.
Black Plum Roma - a newcomer. I'm a sucker for the "black" and "purple" varieties.
Super Fantastic - a repeat from last year, one of the better performers. Should do even better now that it's been promoted to the porch.
Purple Calabash - picked this up just on a whim; it's just cool. I love these lumpy, misshapen heirlooms.
Tiny Tim - another cherry, in a very small (for tomatoes) pot. Most of my cherry tomatoes never make it into the house; I tend to eat them right off the bush.
?Plus... one I lost the identifying tag on. I think it's a Purple Cherokee, but we'll see. It will probably be the best and best tasting, and I'll have no idea what it is. I'm sure it will haunt me for years.

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