After getting the space for the garden established, it was time to get some veggies and herbs in the ground. In the spirit of keeping things simple this year, I intended to have a small selection of plants to manage. A co-worker whose parents own Happy Valley Farms, a veggie farm which does CSAs and sells at area farmer’s markets, asked if I would be interested in taking some tomato plants since they would have more than they need. I happily said yes, thinking I could get 4-5 plants. She replied that she would get me an amount closer to 10. I knew I wouldn’t use them all but, you should never look a gift tomato plant in the mouth (that phrasing doesn’t quite work, but you catch my drift). I knew I could always pass the extras onto friends and neighbors. I assumed they would consist of a couple varieties and welcomed the small selection. 3 weeks later I went to pick up what I thought was a large amount of plants, only to be very happily shocked. They had given me 28 tomato plants consisting of 23 varieties. Many I had never heard of, which is always exciting to me since I often flip through seed catalogs searching for the best tomatoes to plant. Tomatoes like Indigo Rose, Paul Robeson, Striped German, Black Zebra, Big Rainbow, and etc. were laid out in front of me. To a tomato nerd, this truly was every major holiday rolled into one. The selection! I had expanded the garden space to accommodate 11 tomato plants, which meant the careful process of selection. Once I had my line-up, I planted them in my newly established garden plot, but oh, what agony looking at those 17 other plants I would have to find good homes to go to. In a moment of true weakness, I couldn’t give them up, after all, there were so many I had never seen before. I wanted to know what they would all become in color, shape and flavor. With the permission of Amanda I set off into the backyard, digging out more spaces until all 17 orphan tomatoes had found a home. Combining those tomatoes with the two plants I received from our local farmer’s market a few weeks earlier, I had a line up of 30 plants and 24 varieties.
I figured since I would never have such an opportunity again to grow so many varieties at once, that I would take notes and monitor the progression of each variety. That way, I would have first hand knowledge of what varieties of tomatoes are best suited to grow in the garden.
I did not plant any Yellow Brandywine Tomatoes, which in my opinion, is the best tomato I’ve ever eaten. But since I was given all my plants, I have no regrets, in fact I’m always excited to try growing new things.
Now I dream of rainbow colored salsas, tomato soup, and quart jars upon quart jars of tomatoes being canned in the fall.
Posted by Lanny