By the end of my work week, I look forward to some time off. No conference calls, no computers. With hands on hips, I’m able to take a moment in the garden to catch my breath. Surveying my vegetable garden, I’m pleased with how well my tomatoes are doing. For some people, gardening means putting in a few tomato plants, and why not? Provided good sun and water, they almost grow themselves, and the five plants I have are more than enough for my family. Heading back to the house with some fresh basil and tomatoes, I grab a few extra tomatoes to pass over the hedge to my neighbor. Although we couldn’t be any more different (they’re retired, married, no pets, kids are gone), we both share a love of gardening, and spend a few minutes chatting about what’s blooming in our yards. Without the tomatoes would I have taken the time out for myself, or to visit with my neighbor, or would I have just stayed wrapped up in my busy life? I’m glad I’ll never know because I feel calmer and more relaxed, and fresh from the garden still warm tomatoes are amazing.
Once inside I put together a very simple, very tasty supper. Fresh tomatoes and basil, layered with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a bit of salt and pepper is my favorite too hot, too tired to cook kind of meal.
The beauty of this is the ease in growing. Basil does great in pots, and space deprived gardeners might want to try a good bush variety tomato, or for a longer harvest, an indeterminate (vining) tomato with good support. Having been cultivated since around 700 AD by the Aztecs, there are a lot of great tomato varieties to try. For something different, try growing an heirloom tomato. They’re usually the funny looking tomatoes found at organic food stores and farmers markets. The one I’ve already got my eye on to try for next year is called “Cherokee Purple”, which yields large pinkish / purplish fruits with a sweet aftertaste. This variety has been around for at least 100 years, and was reportedly grown first by the Cherokee Indians. I’m fascinated by the history behind it, and am eager for something new. And being an heirloom variety, I can always collect seed from them for the following year. That tickles my frugal heart.