All for the love of summer tomatoes
It's that time of year again. When I get this insatiable call to motherhood of a veggie variety.
The garden at our Green HIlls farm is getting primed and ready to plant step by step as the weeks and the warm weather ensue. And somewhere in the middle of winter, perhaps as the onslaught of seed catalogs hits, I get this itch to grow. No thought to the amount of work about to come in the next 8 months. Planting and maintaining a 10,000 square foot all organic garden is by no means an easy feat. OK, it is daunting. And back breaking and heart wrenching and very "Game of Thrones" like as we, the heroes, try to protect our kingdom from attacks by every kind of bug and slug and nasty thing you can imagine. It is reality tv warfare.
NO CHEMICALS! (If you listen closely, you can hear the damn bugs cheering).
This year, I did not get a vacation in January to Florida. Which resulted in major angst and longing for spring planting and summer harvest.
I went a little cuckoo for cocoa puffs on the heirloom tomato seeds. Smiling widely, fresh basil chiffonade, aged balsamic and EVOO on the brain.
My name is Marie Louise and I am an heirloom seedling hoarder. See picture. One might wonder, what on earth is she going to do with what is close to 300 plants.??? I dunno. I put two or three seeds in each little jiffy pot and they all come up and then I simply do not have the heart to snip off two and let one thrive. I transplant them all.
The good news is we have room for about 200. The bad news is we have room for 200. Hence, 100 to give away.
Like any good woman destined to a cult following of Mother Nature herself, I baby these seedlings. They got planted in organic soil. They get watered with Aquasana filtered water that removes 60 contaminants. They get a feeding of Spray N Grow. I move them in and out of sunlight and near windows that can be opened to provide a nice breeze. This makes them hardy. I rotate. I sing. I encourage. I call them by name - Orange Kentucky Beefsteak, Egg Yolk, Snow White, Violet Jasper ... and how can you not want to get the satisfaction of harvesting your first Pink Bumble Bee?
Would it be easier to just join a Co-op of heirloom tomato farmers and let someone else do the work for me?
Heck ya. I mean, little tomatoes ultimately have to leave the comforts of home and be planted in the big garden where there is danger of pests and wilt on one hand, but sunshine, nutrients and blue skies and rain on the other. They will be caged and staked. They will be planted deep so the roots can thrive. They will be poked and prodded and plucked and pinched back and cursed.
And hopefully, give back 100 pounds more than they were given. Do the math. 200 plants give 50 pounds of tomatoes. Ummmm, ya. We use as much as we can for our catering business and give the rest to hungry people. Of which there are many. Many. We also grow cucumbers, squashes, pumpkins, onions, fennel, lettuces, herbs and two rows of corn for the deer that somehow manage to jump our 7 foot high fence and feast.
Let the summer Veg-Olympics begin!!