Monday, May 24, 2010
Apple of My Eye
The house I have rented has a wall of roses up against the back fence. They are gorgeous, but not dense, with perhaps a meter or more between each bush. This space cried out to me and sang 'tomatoes'.
You say tomato; I say tomatoe...right...
Although I brought radish seeds from France, I did not bring tomato. So i went on the hunt for the red tomato. Or the red baron. Or something.
I knew I wanted heirloom varieties and I knew I wnated a selection that would offer pretty colors in the salad-- beyond that, I was clueless.
My friend Jancey took me Nature's Touch in Templeton, about ten miles south of Paso Robles, exclaiming that this was the place for locally grown and certified organic fruits and veg. Located on the main drag (good old Main Street --#225 South Main Street, to be exact; www.ntnah.com) this modern nursery sells plucked veggies and greens indoors ,but devotes the front yard to tables laden with seedlings and sapplings. There must have been three dozen different kinds of tomato plants.
In the end, I chose mostly according to name. This is also how I pick a race horse, although some of the names sound like a drug deal gone sixties:
* Ozark Pink
* Annas Noire
* Beauty Queen
* Yellow Mortgage Litter
* Cherokee Chocolate
* Big Rainbow
* Cosmonaut Volkov
I once did an article about Frida's Finest, and Frida Kaplan -- an exotics broker who brought kiwi and other unusual fruits and veggies into the US-- many years ago when I worked for People Magazine. Through this interview I learned that the term 'chocolate' in fruit is merely a dark brownish, purple color -- so I knew the chocolate tomato I chose was not for Willy Wonka.
I have seen Beauty Queen sold at other nurseries, so it must be popular-- or bought by a lot of vain women who relate to the nomenclature. Other than that, the only other tomato name I know is 'Bifsteak', which I did not buy. I do wonder if the Cosmonaut Tomato is shaped like a rocket ship or if the Ozark Pink is really pink...but we'll jsut have to wait 75 days to find out.
Indeed, the gestation period on most of these plants is 75-85 days, which means that come August, when I usually go to Asia for three weeks, I will have to hire someone to serve as Tomato Monitor to tend my garden-- making this a very expensive bushel of tomatoes.