If you’ve ever divided a single homegrown tomato and tried to pass it off as the focal point of a meal, welcome to the Club.
The Fickle-Harvest Club.
Or as the Family prefers to call it: The Anyone-Can-Grow-Tomatoes-But-Us Club.
No matter which type of fork you’re holding, pitch or salad, neither of these Clubs lends itself to pleasant mealtime conversation. It’s best to keep your head bowed over your plate and avoid eye contact until it’s time to get up and clear the table.
It’s not that we haven’t had a modicum of success. One year a tomato plant thrived well past Christmas, defied several frosts, and not only took over the raised bed it was in, but threatened to prove itself as a perennial. We boasted about the Godzilla tomato for months.
We should have known better than to take credit for something we haven’t been able to replicate.
Year after year, we’ve tilled. We’ve amended. We’ve weeded. We’ve watered.
With diligence and fervor and sweat.
Lots and lots of sweat.
Despite this monumental effort, none of our tomatoes have performed like Godzilla. Why?
Because we didn’t garden with love, as my Grandma used to say.
Yep. You heard me.
Sweet-talking. Plant-whispering. Crooning. Call it what you will. And don’t try to pass off cajoling, pleading or cursing as sweet-talk. They know the difference. They sucker you in with one killer harvest and then shut you down like the poser you are. That’s how they get you, these tomatoes. They’re smart. Smarter than we are most days.
After last year’s pitiful crop, we decided to throw in our trowels. Either you have the ability to commune with the plants or you don’t.
It’s been tough. Our next trip to the produce aisle, that first mealy tomato, we found ourselves rationalizing the time, the expense, the exasperation. After all, doesn’t one juicy homegrown beat a whole bushel of store bought?
Yes. And no.
Now it’s Spring and the earthworms are calling. Nice try. We won’t be seduced into driving past our favorite nursery with its organic vegetable starts displayed front and center. And don’t even attempt to slip an heirloom seed catalog past us via the U.S. Postal Service; it’s going straight into the round file. Nope. Sorry. No way. We’ve learned our lesson. We’re smarter than those darn tomatoes.
Or at least we were, until last week, when the Grand sweet-talked us into it. That’s how they get you, these tomatoes. They send an adorable seven-year-old to plead their case at supper time, just when you’re trying to pass off an anemic cousin of theirs as the focal point of a meal.
“When are we going to plant our tomatoes?”
A long pause followed. All the adults kept their heads bowed over their plates, avoiding eye contact.
The Grand was unfazed.
“I love our tomatoes,” he said. “We’re good farmers.”
Those tomatoes are onto something.
From here on out, the Grand will be our designated whisperer.
He’s good at it.
Godzilla Tomato 2017?