Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The First Tomatoes

In Tokyo, the fresh produce on offer was always of an exceptional quality. The fruit, in particular, was so perfect that it seemed unreal--much like the prices ($4 for one apple).

At some point during my two year stay in Japan and after shelling out more than my share of yen for fruits and veggies, I started thinking about the vegetables I wanted to grow when I returned to the US. I'd never had a garden before and wasn't sure I would have the yard for one any time soon. That's why it started with tomatoes.

A law school classmate with a green thumb suggested I start with a Patio Tomato. They grow well in containers, produce 3-4 ounce tomatoes, and mature quickly (70 days). For my first attempt at producing something edible, I didn't dare start from seed. Instead I bought my first Patio Tomato from Home Depot and later picked up another at HEB.

My efforts got off to a rocky start:

I let out a yelp when I found this caterpillar
chowing down on one of my first tomatoes.
After a little experimentation, I figured out where in the yard the plants would get the right amount of sun and how fend off pests. Pretty soon I had a little stockpile of ripe tomatoes in my kitchen:

Patio Tomato
Since I had also been growing some sweet basil, this means I've had more than my share of fresh, fragrant caprese salad lately:

Caprese with tomato and sweet basil from my garden
I've been surprised by how much I've enjoyed the process. There is something about the experience of growing edible plants that mirrors the excitement I felt in science lab as a teenager. The research, experimentation, and anticipation of results--there's a little suspense every time I walk into the backyard to see how things are coming along.

So much so that I've expanded my efforts. There are a few other varieties of tomatoes that I started from seed. I've recently started seedlings for a fall garden: broccoli, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, pumpkin and spinach. I also have mature herbs, watermelon and cantaloupe vines, and lemon and lime trees growing.

It all started with one little tomato plant from Home Depot. Thanks to TP for the encouragement!


CP said...

That's awesome! I never thought I would have the desire to garden but a relative has been sharing his abundant crop with us and the desire is slowing starting to grow (ha ha, nice pun). The caprese salad looks yummy!

TP said...

Hey, I only just figured out you were posting here again. Your tomatoes look better than ours! The ones on the balcony aren't really cooperating for some reason, though the ones in the community garden are pretty prolific. If you manage to get melons through to harvest--critters love them--I will be SUPER JEALOUS.