Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A picture-perfect tomato

Once upon a time in the tiny postage-stamp spot outside my apartment, I tried to make a garden. The root-bound ground, tempered over time by summer heat and winter freeze, had become impenetrable. I posted this BEFORE photo of my garden spot back in early May. (Click to enlarge it, if you want to see the things I describe.) Since I couldn't dig DOWN, I decided to build UP. See the three bags of deep dark dirt I bought? They are the first of maybe ten or twelve bags I spread in this spot. See the edgers behind the big planter? I used them along the sidewalks, allowing for a couple of inches of new soil. Who knew it takes LOTS of bags of dirt to cover such a tiny space? Not I. Next came the plants, some of which you can see in the photo above. That's a tomato plant in the middle of the big planter. I bought a few plants, and one of my neighbors gave me four left-over green plants that I put in front of the fence. But mostly I wanted to grow tomatoes.

So this is the saga of the tiny tomato. We bought five or six tomato plants, ONE of which grew tall and produced maybe half a dozen blossoms before a big storm knocked off all the blooms and it stalled, nevermore to grow anything. Then one of the tinier plants produced a single tomato. But it's a beaut! See? We first noticed it when it was about the size of the end of my thumb, a tiny perfect green tomato! Wow, we had a tomato!

Now for the "rest of the story," as Paul Harvey says. I was practically on my knees to get that amazing photo of our one and only tomato of the summer. It looks, well, somewhat anemic if viewed from a normal distance, as in this photo. See that red dot in the center of the photo? What, you can't see it? Click on the photo to enlarge it. Yes, that dot, the one that shows up only because I made sure the sidewalk set it off. Donna and I plan to make an occasion of eating this little thing, even though we'll get only half a bite each. And if you don't hear from me again, figure it poisoned me! I'm halfway serious. It has taken this poor little smaller-than-a-golf-ball-sized tomato all summer to grow this big. Because it is now the perfect color, we know it's time to pick it. Gotta go. The little one is waiting beside my Shh! I'm trying to read bookmark.


EVENING UPDATE:

We picked it, we cut it, we sliced it wafer thin. And it ALMOST covered a cheese sandwich. I ate my half as part of the sandwich, but didn't get a lot of tomato taste because of the thinness of the slices. Donna watched me, saw that it didn't kill me outright, and daintily plucked her three slices off the bread, cheese, and mayo and ate the slices separately. She says the teensy tiny tomato had excellent taste.

12 comments:

June said...

You had me laughing with this one! The first photo had it looking so big and plump...that just shows how perspectives change everything! Judy and I got our first tomato last week. It was a decent size and juicy but nothing really yummy. We had a few more coming last time I looked...except we've neglected to water it lately :-o

Jena said...

All our local crops are weeks behind because winter was so long departing... I'm looking forward to my tomato crop! I've never grown my own tomatoes before, though we're often gifted with some of our friends' crops. We're renting our space now, and we won't be here mcuh longer, so I kept everything transportable--and I grew my tomatoes and peppers upside-down in burlap bags filled with specially water-retentive soil. I'll be blogging about that soon. My tomato plant looks fantastic!

June said...

Are you sure you're not growing cherry tomatoes? :-) Perhaps you can convince others it's some sort of nouvelle cuisine variety :-))

Bonnie Jacobs said...

June, if it were truly a cherry tomato, it would be a giant in its field. But alas, I cannot tell a lie ... I did NOT chop down a cherry (tomato) tree! All I can say is that it's the runt of the litter, along with being the whole litter, of course.

Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

LOL. Poor tomato - after all that effort I'd probably have left to seed naturally and hopefully produce more and better tomatoes the following season!
That said, there is nothing better than home grown tomatoes and eating the fruits of your own labours!
Hopefully you'll have better luck next time!

colleen said...

I wish I could give you some of mine. You deserve a bagful after all your effort and appreciation of that one little red one.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Vanilla,
Good thinking, to let it seed itself for next year. However, I've already applied for a larger apartment here, if and when one becomes available, which means someone else would have reaped the fruit of my labor (such as it was). So it was a now-or-never situation, and we ate it!

Colleen,
I'll be right over for a tomato or two. (Don't I wish!) One of these days we'll manage to meet each other, since we live less than a day apart (in traveling time).

All of you,
Can you see I had more fun writing this than any number of BIG tomatoes could have provided?

I think part (if not all) of the problem was the heavy mulch the apartment complex put down AFTER I'd planted my flowers and tomatoes. If you look again at the photos, you can see they covered up my nice dark dirt with a thick layer of coarse wood chips (actually more like shredded strips) that have almost killed the flowers, too. Look especially at the photo with my bookmark, and you can see how the owners undid a lot of my work by practically burying the poor little plants within days of my putting them in the ground. An apartment complex is not the best place to become a tomato farmer!

Jena,
The first tomatoes I grew (in the early 1960s) were wonderful -- a variety of large ones that could almost cover a sandwich with one slice. Even so, no one expected that the very first one I pulled off the vine would weigh an ounce shy of two pounds! If was so huge that I photographed it, too, before eating it. I put it on a scale so the picture shows both the tomato and its weight. I don't think the scales would have noticed the little one from this summer sitting on it!

My first and (maybe) my last -- what a contrast!

Beth said...

Like June, you had me laughing with your Tiny Tomato Tale, Bonnie! I'm so glad that you and Donna were able to enjoy an entire sandwich with its bounty. :-)
It reminds me of the little apple tree we had at our last house which produced exactly one apple a year. The first year, we eagerly watched the apple grow and when it reached maturity, we declared an Apple Festival and had the Official Picking of the Apple. We all watched as Tom carefully cut it in slices and handed us each a fourth. I'd like to say it was the best apple I ever ate, but actually it was a little bland and rather worm-eaten. Nevertheless, our Apple Festival was a grand success!

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Joy said...

Fun! I'm not sure I would have kept on if that had been my first experience with growing tomatoes!

Joy's Book Blog

Bonnie Jacobs said...

Oh, this wasn't my first. Notice in my comment to Jena (above) that I said,

"The first tomatoes I grew (in the early 1960s) were wonderful -- a variety of large ones that could almost cover a sandwich with one slice. Even so, no one expected that the very first one I pulled off the vine would weigh an ounce shy of two pounds! If was so huge that I photographed it, too, before eating it. I put it on a scale so the picture shows both the tomato and its weight. I don't think the scales would have noticed the little one from this summer sitting on it! My first and (maybe) my last -- what a contrast!"

It was probably the last tomato I'll ever grow.