Falling in Love – with Tomatoes

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So if you recall, last time in this space I was talking about the joys of being a mom and trying to achieve that work/life balance and saying that I was hoping I’d be spending Mother’s Day in the garden with my sons, getting this year’s veggie crop into the ground.

Little did I know that the guys in my life were planning to surprise me with a greenhouse!

Here’s a picture of my two youngest helping out in my new gardening digs. (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Best. Kids. Ever.)

The very first thing we planted on Mother’s Day was our tomatoes.

There’s nothing quite so emblematic of the joys of gardening than fresh tomatoes from your garden. They work on almost all the senses – the beautiful transformation from green plant to yellow flower to deep red fruit; the earthy smell of it; the satiny smooth skin against your fingers when you pick it off the plant…

Then there’s that taste. Ever eaten a tomato fresh off the vine that is still slightly sun-warmed? Heaven.

No wonder I’m in love with tomatoes! And that’s why every year at Warner’s Nursery, we break out the party hats to celebrate Tomatopalooza with specials and advice and just general joy that tomato season is back. In honor of Tomatopalooza, here’s some practical advice on rearing your tomato plant for a beautiful harvest:

  • Please get them planted soon! We’ve got a limited window to grow these gems and the sooner yours are in the ground, the sooner you can reap (eat) the benefits.
  • You might want to invest in a season extender – even if you aren’t technically extending the season. The nice thing about these tubes of water is that in addition to keeping the plant warm (remember, we still could get frost into June), they protect your plants from transplant shock.
  • Yes, you need cages or stakes. Tomato plants are like children – they need structure and support. New fruit will benefit from improved air circulation and it keeps the plants away from ground pests.
  • Food and Water. A slow release fertilizer is perfect for your young plants. Water thoroughly but not too often and try to water early in the day so that plants will dry off before evening. As always, we recommend drip irrigation systems because they are more efficient and get the water down to the roots and you don’t lose water to evaporation or runoff. If nothing else, don’t water from the top down – this does nothing except get the leaves and tomatoes wet and make them more prone to get diseases or rot.

So let’s wrap this up with some food and funnies.

The food – I love a good gazpacho and this recipe from the New York Times is simple and can be served as a drink as well as a soup.

Funnies: Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing….Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. Philosophy is wondering if this makes ketchup a smoothie….Why is a tomato big, round, and red? Because if it was long, skinny, and green, it would be a bean.

Happy Tomatopalooza!