I like to garden for relaxation. Urging plants to grow from seed and taking care of them throughout the process fills a basic need for me to get away from everything technological for just a little while each day. Nurturing plants is a lot like nurturing kids and pets!
I'm planting more heirloom tomato seeds this week. My geraniums and impatiens are growing stronger. The petunias are popping out of the soil. It's time for our major growing vegetable. We usually plant around twenty-five tomato plants in our garden to produce fresh tomatoes as well as to freeze for winter. But I grow about 100 plants so we can give plants to friends, family, neighbors. I never know how many will thrive and once they start growing, I nurture them.
|This year's geraniums and impatiens|
|2013 tomato seedlings|
The first year I grew tomatoes, I started with a basic beefsteak variety and paste tomatoes. I watch cooking shows and was intrigued by the chefs using "heirloom" tomatoes which were supposed to have a richer, more vibrant flavor. In our area there wasn't a market where I could find heirloom tomatoes.
What are heirloom tomatoes? To me the term means tomatoes with a history and possibly a story behind them. They are open pollinated and are true tomatoes without genetic engineering. When I decided to grow them, I understood that they might be more prone to disease and cracking. But that hasn't been my experience. To my surprise, almost all of them grew and the result was close to a hundred healthy plants last year. Maybe this was the result of the varieties I chose. Or maybe my crop was the result of where I bought my seeds. I found an organic farm online (Tomato Fest) that is California-based. (http://www.tomatofest.com/) This year I purchased seeds from another venue, too--Totally Tomato ( http://www.totallytomato.com/ )
I'll give you an example of the history of an heirloom tomato. My favorite variety is Marianna's Peace. This tomato is an indeterminate that produces a 1 to 2 pound beautiful fruit. (It's officially a pink tomato!) It has a bountiful, not too acid taste, wonderful for eating and also good for sauce. The seeds date back to the early 1900's when they were smuggled out of Czechoslovakia by a seventeen-year-old named Marianna.
Another favorite of mine is Anna Russian which has a heart-shaped red fruit. The seeds came from a Russian immigrant. Here's a photo of last year's fruit.
This year I'm trying some new varieties along with Marianna and Anna Russian. A few are Ponderosa Pink, Ponderosa Gold, Big Italian Beefsteak, Bull's Heart and Watermelon Beefsteak. As the garden progresses, I'll blog and post photos, comparing this year's crop to last year's.
Do you grow tomatoes? What are your best varieties? What does the process of gardening give you?
©2013 Karen Rose Smith
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