CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

The ‘recession garden’ and home-grown tomatoes

A black plum heirloom tomato plant just beginning to fruit a couple summers back.

A black plum heirloom tomato plant just beginning to fruit a couple summers back.

As you’ve doubtless surmised, I’m absolutely passionate about my heirloom tomatoes. What began as a lark and later became a hobby, has blossomed into a full-on obsession. So, when a friend drew my attention to the CNN Web site’s “recession gardens” report, I figured now was the perfect time to pull out my soapbox and extol the virtues of home-grown tomatoes.

The gist of the CNN article is that the recession (and possibly First Lady Michelle Obama) is encouraging an increasing number of Americans to make use of their personal green space to grow produce as a way to reduce grocery spending. (See my Blogroll at right for a link to this story.)

If this is a trend you’d like to embrace, heirloom tomatoes could be the perfect starter for your edible garden. I grow at least four or five pots of these tasty treats on my city balcony each season. Not only do they supply my dinner table throughout the summer, but there are plenty left over to share with my friends and neighbors.

Since I garden in containers, I only select cherry, grape or small plum varieties. I tried a full-size tomato my first year and got poor results. So, unless you’re planting in the ground, follow my lead. (There are also some small heirlooms cultivated specifically for containers that should work, too.)

There are two heirloom tomatoes that have been so successful for me I grow them every year. They are sun-sugar hybrid and black plum. When ripe the sun-sugar cherry is a bright yellow-orange and has a light, sweet flavor. The black plum is a dark red when mature and has a richer, more robust flavor. Both are incredibly prolific. As for the remainder of my choices, I usually mix it up, trying new varieties each year — either because I like the description or because I simply like the way they look. (Heirlooms come in a wide variety of colors — red, yellow, orange, green, black, pink, white. … And some even have stripes.)

In addition to the sun-sugar and black plum, I ordered eight packets of other heirloom tomato seeds this year. (Actually, I  accidentally ordered a ninth packet that produces 2-pound tomatoes! It’ll make a nice gift for one of my friends with a yard.) From the eight, I have to decide on three to join my faves in my garden this summer.

And I better do it quick: I’m slated to start my seeds this weekend.

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4 Comments»

  bangchik wrote @

Good luck to your tomato growing adventure … cheers! ~ bangchik

  Lynne Jordan wrote @

It was you Ms City Diggity, who gave me my first tomato plant, I was always thrilled to go out on my porch, look at the morning sun, stretch, and then pluck a cherry tomato right off the vine!

Oh, the sweetness!

Oh, to feel the joy of eating something that I had cultivated and grown!

I can’t wait!!

  Avis Weathersbee wrote @

Maybe I’ll pop a pack of seeds in the mail to you!!

  Maureen Jenkins wrote @

It’s sad that it’s perhaps taken a recession/depression to get many Americans back into their gardens, but it’s a GOOD thing if we start thinking and eating healthier… and getting our hands dirty. Kudos to you and First Lady Michelle for extolling the virtues of food you grow yourself. Maybe someday even I’ll get into the spirit!


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