Thursday, May 10, 2007
I couldn't help myself. As you know I have been reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and her talk of planting her garden and then the first fresh homegrown tomato were too much for me. This morning I went to Whole Foods and what is displayed but a whole variety of heirloom tomato and pepper plants. Tomato varieties I remember from my childhood like Rutgers, Brandywine, Granny Cantrell and Pruden's Purple. Peppers like Nardello and Garden Sunshine. All heirloom varieties so I can save the seed if I want and replant next year. Most of what is available in the garden centers are all the hybrids like Big Boy, Early Girl and Better Boy which make a pretty good tomato but are all F1 hybrids which means the seeds won't carry the traits of the parents so you won't know what you will get.
Another thing about the heirloom varieties is that they have already run the gauntlet of natural selection. Our ancestors selected seeds from the best of their tomatoes season after season and these are the plants that have already battled pests, bad weather and poor soil and still produced good crops. Granted they don't ship well and won't all be the same size or necessarily the brightest red but they will taste good when fresh from the vine.
The only issue now is where to plant them. I think I will have to take the area over by the western fence and build a couple of beds 8'x8' or so and make this my tomato and pepper patch and not try and rescue some of my old garden at the back of the lot. Maybe next year that will be reclaimed to garden for potatoes, beans, corn, squash, cabbage, broccoli and all the rest. I have about a half acre cleared of trees at the back of my lot where I used to garden. Mother nature has reclaimed it for weed but I keep it knocked down and a couple of weekends and my mighty 30 year old Troy-Bilt tiller can make it a garden once again.
So anyway, it looks my weekend is committed to building two nice beds and getting these tomatoes and peppers in the ground. Who knows I may have enough room for some other goodies when I am through.