Back in early April, many a tomato seeds were carefully placed in row trays in the warm, climate controlled greenhouse at Holly Hill Farm. The plan and hope are for these tomatoes to grow and see through to a bigger pot and eventual success and fruition in a larger garden, farm field or patio or porch container, maybe even a hanging basket.
There are easily over twenty varieties grown on the Farm ranging from the robust sounding Paul Robeson to the just right and ready ripe New Girl to the farmer’s favorite heirloom Cherokee Purple and the delicious Garden Peach.
Each tomato has their own taste, their own color, size and unique traits. There are determinate tomatoes which grow to a certain, manageable size and there are indeterminate tomatoes which, if given the chance, will grow beyond any given cage and sprawl all over the yard, giving off multiple fruits. The cherry tomatoes are often ready first and taste the sweetest, with the Sun Gold variety rarely making their way back to the kitchen, instead being consumed right on site.
If given the space, say 18 inches to two feet, the typical tomato will produce wonderful fruits right up until the likely first frosts in October. At that point, the grower, the gardener and the farmer are having to face the reality of shorter days and the approach of winter. But now it is still spring on the calendar and despite the temperatures dipping into the fifties these June nights, most of the time now is spent on securing these crops in their spot for a long, successful season.
And what about the tomatoes that are still in their two and three inch pots? Where do they go for their growing life? The farmers grew many plants that still sit unclaimed. Some of these seedlings might produce flowers while in their small pots, though it is a sign of desperation. Ideally, they need to be in a much larger state to bear more productive tomatoes.
We have tomatoes heading to the fields and we sold quite a few to the willing customers who have come by the plant sale over the last few weeks. We even brought many tomato seedlings to workshops in Quincy and Weymouth and gave them to folks who did not have access or the means to grow their own tomatoes. Many tomatoes remain and we are looking to turn more space to heel in more plants for greater tomato harvest come late August.
Nurturing, cultivating and caring for these plants take time, patience and even some hope. Perhaps we ought to find a safe space to plant a few for peace, tolerance, equal rights and stake a tomato in the ground to reduce the proliferation and sale of guns in our society. More tomatoes and less violence. More tomato growth to help maintain a steady Pulse in the sometimes cruel world. Come by the Farm and continue caring for an organic tomato plant that needs water, sun, good soil and as many a first grader is apt to say, “love”.
© 2016, Jon Belber. All rights reserved. Friends of Holly Hill Farm