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  • Alanna Salussolia

Our First Tomato

Updated: May 22

My obsession with tomatoes likely stems from my passion for marinara sauce. Before Bachelor Mondays, there was regular old spaghetti night, and this in itself was pretty great.

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to grow tomatoes. I had tried to grow them from seed before but never really got far. Then, he made the epic suggestion to get me a tomato plant for Mother's Day. I said, "Yes, please." One Saturday as the mom day approached, we moseyed to a nursery to get some tomatoes. No dice. It was 5 PM, and places were closing.

The following week we went to another nursery. Found a jasmine plant for mom, but no tomatoes.

Tomato Depot

The gardener working at the nursery told me had tried to sell tomatoes but shoppers weren't buying. He recommended I get some Big Boys, which were at places like Home Depot. He said "Ya know, those Big Boys really grow." I nodded my head like someone well-versed in tomato talk, then hopped back in our Prius.

We decided to forgo the nursery strategy and headed to Home Depot even though a master gardener told me to avoid buying plants at regular stores. Turns out some very helpful sales folks let us know that we could return plants for a whole year! So we bought not one, but two plants.

Variety Show

I considered a plant with those giant beefsteak tomatoes, but I read that the heavier tomatoes are riskier to manage and can fall off weak branches at in opportune moments. Something like that's plus as delicious as they are it's a lot of pressure to eat a whole giant tomato, and frankly they aren't exactly apples to me.

I opted for a cherry tomato plant - they are cute and easy for salads. Plus the one at the store looked happy and healthy. I also got a Roma tomato plant. This one looked a little sad, but it's, as they say, my favorite tomato. The Roma tomato is precisely perfect in size. And it doesn't burst in your mouth with the petulance of a bombastic cherry tomato. So versatile - burgers, paste, sliced fresh or sautéed, these tomatoes are delish.

Thelma and Louise

I decided these needed names if I am going to really be committed to them. Thelma is the cherry plant and Louise is the Romas. So far they are both still alive and growing. I repotted Thelma, the cherry tomato plant, to give it more room to grow with a bigger cage. In the process, I accidentally broke a primary limb which was a tragedy - at first. I read I could put the branch in water and it will essentially re-root. So I am doing that and the new white root sprouts are delightful. So maybe I am getting a third plant out of the deal!

First Fruits

Confession: both had full green tomatoes when I bought them. I wanted this to be fairly failsafe. Still, I celebrate the little things. The cherry plant yielded the first ripe fruit. Lucy put her Paw Patrol gardening glove on, checked for spiders, and picked the first edible tomato. We went inside and split it! The slimey seeds inside grossed her out but she was ok with a tiny bite of the skin. Yum.

Louise, the Romas, are still green but the plant does look happy. Maybe she has a new lease on life on the Salussolia porch. Just gotta keep her away from Thunderbirds.

Battling the Elements

My first tomato mom challenges are too much sun, too much rain and not enough water in between. From different locations relative to sun, using awnings to slow ruin, and regularly touching the soil for dampness, the girls are keeping me on my toes.

Their most recent assailant has been leafminers. I had to google squiggly white lines tomato leaf problems. Yes, these tiny bugs leave white path patterns on leaves. Last year it was mealy bugs infesting the cucumber crop. Hopefully some pruning will do the trick with the tomatoes. Both tomato and cucumber leaves have wonderful aromas so pruning is sort of a lovely process.

Let's hope that Louise will ripen soon and I can harvest some bruschetta or caprese.

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