Thursday, September 09, 2004

Love apples

There's only two things
that money can't buy:
True Love
and home-grown tomatoes

— Guy Clark

It has been a cool and rainy summer in Vermont, and while our tomatos grew large, they did not start ripening in large numbers until last week.

Vermont has a short growing season — our next-door neighbors were reminiscing the other day about one summer when they lost most of their garden to a killing frost on August 30th. I have been advised by some not to even attempt to grow anything in the nightshade family at all, and there is no particular reason for me to grow tomatoes, as I am the only one in the family who will eat them. I never buy tomato plants, but each year somehow end up with several.

The tomato plants we grew this year were abused as sproutlings; left unattended in the back of a truck for several hot, dry days on end, they were not looking very healthy when we received them. I doubted that our "live and let die" approach to gardening would do very well by them. Yet we have ended the summer, once again, with vast amounts of tomatoes.

This year we have a variety: one grape tomato plant and one that produces shocking neon-orange tomatoes, as well as a couple of the more traditional big round red tomato plants. When tomato plants were first brought to Europe from the "New World," they were considered poisonous but decorative plants (the leaves and stems are poisonous), but loved nonetheless.

This week I've been eating panzanella for lunch every other day, tossing grape tomatoes into tabbouleh with abandon, and topping all of my frequent Mexican dishes with a day-glo orange roasted-tomato salsa. Who needs money?

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