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Winter Tomatoes


Only a handful of my 120 tomato seedlings I started this year.

I have been living in a small apartment right in downtown Racine Wisconsin for the past 8 months, which means I moved here in August, only enough time to grow a few radishes and greens before the fall frosts hit. Needless to say I did not put away as many canned and frozen vegetables (and tomatoes) as I would have liked. I have spent the winter eating the cold season offerings at the Milwaukee County Winter Farmer’s Market supplemented by grains and veggies purchased at Whole Foods. Shopping at Whole Foods makes me feel wealthy (which I am not) and clueless about what time of year it is. Piles of tomatoes in January just seems wrong. I can’t wrap my brain around spending money on a tomato that tastes like water and has the texture of grainy toothpaste, no matter how much I miss them.

This is why I am ridiculously, ecstatically, overjoyed at the first signs of spring. So much so that I have started 120 tomato seedlings. One hundred and twenty. Now I don’t know if you have ever grown tomatoes before, but just a few plants can produce so many that, unless you are into canning, you will be giving bagfuls of  tomatoes away by the end of August. And yet I have chosen to start over a hundred tomato plants.

Obviously the sight of all those winter tomatoes pilled up at Whole Foods has made me over-zealous. I long for hot summer days with a slice of a giant Black Krim heirloom stacked ceremoniously on top of a basil and farmer’s cheese sandwich. Days where the sweetest candy is a handful of yellow pear tomatoes, ripened in the sun. Oh the delicious taste of homegrown tomatoes!

Next September I’m sure I will be calling for an end to tomato season. You will find me playing “ding dong ditch” with bushels full of bright red and yellow orbs. Now I am content to tenderly care for my 120 tomato seedlings and dream of the pleasure they will bring to my table once summer is in full swing.

P.S. If you are short a tomato plant this year, I just may have an extra two, or three….or one hundred.


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