Marilyn Gardner Woods
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
A pleasure I wouldn’t have had if there had been no pandemic. I wouldn’t have taken the time.
Heirloom tomato seeds arrive.
Brightly colored envelopes from Victory Seed Gardens in Molalla, Oregon and from Penn and Cord’s Garden in Westcliffe, Colorado.
Six packets; four for friends, two for me.
My selection process was beyond thorough and in the end, I opted for Saucy Dwarf Mary that promises “tons of green-fleshed elongated juicy and exceptionally flavorful fruit” and the compact Cyril’s Choice which boasts of “loads of saladette-sized sweet, flavored beauties.”
My mouth waters as I picture an overabundance of ripe, red and green plump deliciousness growing in my garden; I can almost taste fresh tomato salsa, tomato and burrata with grilled flatbread, Mediterranean pasta salad brimming with the flavorful fruit and basil, Puttanesca, Gazpacho—endless fresh tomato recipes I would make throughout the summer. All from my two packets of seeds.
Hands sanitized, plastic pots sterilized, organic potting soil.
The planting begins. No worries about waiting until frost danger is past here in Southern California.
Plant twenty percent more seeds than the number of plants you want.
Fill container with dampened organic soil.
Tamp down mix to get air out.
Plant seeds one-fourth inch deep.
Tamp down again.
Put containers into a loose-fitting plastic bag.
The directions state if temperature is consistent, seeds will germinate within five to ten days.
I place my indoor seed farm in the guest room upstairs under the south facing window.
Each day, I mist the blank surface of the deep brown potting soil. Moisture collects on the top of the blue plastic bag which protects the small particles full of potential in my four containers.
Yesterday was the eighth day and pangs of discouragement threatened.
Imagine the thrill when I went to mist the dirt this morning and there, like buoyant birthday candles atop a chocolate cake waiting to celebrate, a smattering of tiny green sprouts! All on the same day. Ten Cyrils, eight Saucy Marys. She may catch up.
Later in the day, I create a folder on my computer titled “Tomato Recipes.”
I want to be prepared for the harvest.
If I can just manage the transplant into the real garden when the time is right.
The tomato pictures were taken by my friend, Bess - the last of her 2020 crop. She picked them green, left them to ripen on her porch. One day they were all red, the next day they were gone. Who takes somebody's labor-of-love crop like that?
Fingers crossed for plenty of Saucy Mary's and Cyril's to share with Bess this year!
Need a warm sprouting spot. my garden window? I love the spontaneity 🌱 MP
Well, I didn’t follow your exquisite directions and I don’t think there is much hope of sprouts like yours.
Maybe your success will be so bountiful that you will be able to spare me a plant. I put mine outside. If the sun comes out strong there may be a chance. Bob
What an excellent pandemic project!!
Good luck! Bess
PS SDBG in Encinitas used to have a
Mid-March Tomato Planting Madness Event :we tried the exotic green zebra variety and learned something (I have since forgotten ) -like companion planting?
We hope to be the recipients of the bounty! Just a plain home grown tomato is deliciousness enough for me! Beautiful writing! SB
I loved your tomato essay. You have such a wonderful way with words. I have done the tomato thing in my backyard here. They grew in the area where I have wild asparagus. Had to fight with the birds and the bugs and the rabbits. So a lot of them didn’t make it but I was still so proud when I brought one in that was just perfect.We always just cleaned it up, put it in the refrigerator, and then brought them out and sliced them and they didn’t need any superfluous seasoning. JL
I love food, almost any kind of food, but I think that, queen above all else, are those red deliciousness. In those trick questions like, if you had to choose only one food, I think I would pick a ripe plump tomato (but five seconds later I would want to drizzle it with extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle a touch of salt and pepper, lay some basil leaves on it and eat them over toast _ but the glass of red wine would have to be available too, don't you think?) RS