Friday, May 25, 2007

Tomatoes: Is Variety Really the Spice of Life or Is It Basil?

The end of the semester means time to get back into the garden. This year, I had decided that I was only going to put Brandywines in the tomato bed. Best tomato on the planet, Brandywine. Certainly not the prettiest, but the size and flavor, not to mention that it's all flesh and little seed makes it our favorite. It's the sort of tomato you don't slice, you cut thick steaks out of. It's not an accent tomato that you put on a something else sandwich -- it is a sandwich.

But then, there I was at the nursery (this year, I didn't grow from seed) and I'm faced with all the varieties and suddenly I feel like I'm in the video store and picking up my Brandywine plants is kind of like choosing the chick flick of the tom section. After all, there are more manly westerns to choose from like "mule train," "Arkansas traveler," and "cherokee purple." Educational tomatoes like "Abraham Lincoln" and "Paul Robeson." "Mr. Stripey" always sounded to me like a Frank Capra kind of crop, while "bloody butcher" is the Wes Craven version. Then, of course, there are the Suze Orman financial self-help series "mortgage lifter" and "money maker." All of this is not to mention those other tomatoes, the adult plants they keep behind the little partition, you know, "big boy," "early girl," "beefmaster," "black seaman," and "wild cherry." Planting some of them, you'd not only get dirty, you'd feel dirty.

Have a nice holiday weekend everyone, whether you're in the garden or not.