I don’t have a green thumb (by any stretch of the imagination), but last year’s tomato crop was so dismal that I barely harvested enough fruit for a caprese salad, never mind a batch of marinara sauce. This year, however, is looking much, much more promising. With the first “early girl” turning red as we speak (and plenty more on the vine), I am beginning to see a bowl (if not multiple bowls) of pico de gallo in our near future. Of course, that will have to wait until we have ourselves a real harvest, because the first one is going to be sliced and eaten with nothing but a sprinkle of crunchy fleur de sel. If I can hold off long enough to slice it, that is.
Bolstered by my tomato victory, I am already getting organized and planning next year’s garden. At the risk of getting cocky, in addition to the varieties available at my local garden centre, I think I might try my hand at some heirloom varieties. I have always been attracted to heirloom varieties, partly because of their funny names and unusual appearance, but also partly due to their nostalgia and historical significance. This repurposed organizer (above) by Red Truck Designs is the perfect catch-all for seed packets, sketches, clippings and photographs. The piece’s designer, Susan, has even attached strong magnets to the vintage forks (included) so that you can hold even *more* ephemera and inspiration.
I don’t know where I got the idea that have heirloom varieties would be hard to grow, but I have kept away from them for just that reason. After doing a little bit of research, though, I have discovered that I couldn’t have been more wrong. Other than getting them started, I’ve been assured that they’ll be no more difficult than my usual tomato plants. And, with a little luck and a lot of sunshine, by this time next year I could be sitting down to a salad of Cherokee Purples, Yellow Brandywines, Striped Romans and Black Krims grown from seed by The Bear Foot Shaman. My mouth is watering just at the thought of it! After all, rather than being grown for the perfect appearance and long shelf-life of modern varieties, heirlooms are known for their TASTE.
No smell is more evocative of gardening to me than that of the tomato plant itself. Sometimes, on a hot summer’s day, even if I am not working in the garden I find myself running my hands through the leaves and over the stalks of my tomato plants just to pick up the lush and pungent scent. I swear; it’s better than any perfume. The Dirty Housewife Soap Co. has captured that scent in this vibrant, verdant soap (pictured above). Containing Chlorella, a single-celled algae touted as a true “superfood”, each 5oz ruffled bar will leave your skin soft and smelling of summer all year-round.
Of course, it’s not enough for tomatoes to just taste and smell good. They have to up the ante by being good for you, too. Thanks to a certain ketchup company’s marketing, we have all heard of lycopene, a powerful phytochemical found in, you guessed it, tomatoes. Responsible for giving tomatoes their vibrant red hue, lycopene is an efficient anti-oxidant compound that attacks damaging free-radicals in the body and promotes healthy cell-growth. Although it is best known as a preventative measure for prostate cancer, lycopene is beneficial for both sexes. Maybe we should change that old adage to “A tomato a day keeps the doctor away!” Let these cute little earrings by Mouse Market (pictured above) remind you to eat your tomatoes and get your daily dose of the good stuff, because the less time you spend in doctors’ waiting rooms, the more time you can spend in the garden!