Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Romeo, Romeo, Where For Art Thou Romeo?

The garden is moving along at a good clip.  These are the delicious Juliette tomatoes we're growing this year, along with a bunch of other heirloom varieties.  My dear friend had a plant sale back in May and I picked up a bunch of different plants.  I'm most excited to try the Purple Cherokees, which are very pretty and beginning to turn purple on the vine.  Amazing!  I also got a couple of yellow/pink streaked ones who's name is escaping me at the moment. 

The need to preserve heirloom vegetables, fruits and animals is very urgent. If you're unfamiliar with what heirlooms are, they are strains that have been handed down and grown for in some cases, thousands of years.  If we allow Big Corporate Food Commodities to dictate our food sources (which believe me, doing the research- is exactly what they are intent on doing, I'm not naming names for fear of slander prosecution ...and believe me on this one, they do that too).  Heirloom varieties are amazing!  Such wonderful flavors, colors and beauty. 

We're so conditioned to seeing the rock hard tomatoes that appear in the cellophane wrapped neat packages on the grocery store shelf.  Those tomatoes were not bred for their flavor or nutrition, but for their ability to be picked green, gassed, wrapped and transported thousands of miles all while retaining their shape.  I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be able to withstand that treatment and look that good on a shelf!  Heirloom varieties of fruit and vegetables are bred soley for their taste, adaptation and nutrition.  There is a very large difference between those rock hard, largely tasteless orbs on the grocery store shelf and the ones I'm picking ripened on the vine (as nature intended) sun warmed and juicy with all their different nuances in flavor and texture. Some are super sweet, some are tangy, some are spicy, all are wonderful.  Not only this, but they are adapted to grow in the climate in which they were developed.  You can get tomatoes in New Hampshire that won't succeed in Texas because their climates are suited to grow different types.  Heirlooms tell the story of a region, of generations passed down from one to the next.  They are all of our heritage, really.

And, I might add that they are super easy to grow in containers.  If I could beseech you to do one thing, it would be to plant an heirloom tomato pot on your deck, windowsill, flower garden where ever you have a little space.  Experiment a little bit, give something different a try.  I can promise you that you won't be disappointed, and if nothing else, you've given yourself the satisfaction of growing food to nourish yourself.  Every step towards self sufficient is the best step to make.

As I was browsing the many different varieties of heirloom plants my friend had lovingly started for her sale, I was having such a tough time choosing between which type I wanted to try next.  I was so very saddened to hear my friend trying to explain to a woman who was not going for the gold, orange or purple tomatoes that no, she didn't have red varieties in large tomatoes.  The woman disgustedly told her, "That's ridiculous! Well, if I'm going to eat a tomato, it's got to be red, I'm used to eating red ones".  I was saddened to hear this and also sad for her that she was so set in her ways that she wouldn't even try a new variety.  Expand her tastes beyond those grocery store tomato like vegetables she was so conditioned to eating.  Sad, indeed.  Expand your horizons, folks, it's not only good for our food options, but it's just plain good for the soul.

Wishing you purple tomatoes in your gardens, ~Peacemom


Dog Trot Farm said...

Tomatoes already? wow, I am impressed. I am of your opinion in regards to heirloom varieties, how boring to be satisfied with an plain old red tomato! Hope you are enjoying your summer, blessings, Julie.

Jennifer and Steve said...

Beautiful tomatoes! Love those heirlooms. We're eating cherry tomatoes now plus so much else. We'll do a garden update one of these days. So much to do! You know. :) Take care of you!