Slow Tomatoes - Rubies of the Vine 410
by Lisa Martin, Greenville Texas
There is something about the taste of a genuine, slow grown tomato that takes me back in time to my grandma’s garden. Biting through the sweet-tart tomato skin, I see my grandma on her knees, weeding amongst her plants; her newly washed Keds drying on the picket posts which divided her garden from her lawn.
She knew the value of a good, slow grown tomato. Even though she would not eat them herself, she grew them in bushel loads to nourish and satisfy her family. Holding the tangy Velcro tomato stem under my nostrils, I smell all of the yesterdays that went into the development of the fruit.
The taut smooth skin covering the sweet rosy meat offers an explosion of all the goodness required to create such a precious, perfect specimen.
Those petrified tasteless objects which pass for tomatoes in most grocery stores can never compare with the conversion of sunshine and rain encapsulated within a slow grown tomato.
My rubies of the vine began life as seeds, tiny packages of promise lovingly swaddled within milk-jug cribs, as they progressed toward their first non-cotyledon growth from the earth.
As a feeble 2012 winter limped into history, my babies were erupting in my sunroom window.
Their thirst was slaked with well water and they were blanketed in Texas sunshine for many hours a day.
One overcast day in April, with the threat of spiteful freeze-over, my gems were planted in the good rich mounds of soil which had been intermingled with pungent compost from the previous year. Filling their burial chambers with life-giving well water, my Homestead tomato babies were ready to thrive.
Several hard rains threatened to cripple the vines, but the strength of nature and nurture prevailed, and my crimson babies matured until they were ready for martyrdom.
My first tomato is a tithe to all that is good in life. The vine bears incense rising up to heaven, and the warmth of the fruit in my palm is an offering, a tangible evidence of the cooperation between God and man.
Swallowing the sweetness, I savor the patience and effort signified by the fruit.
I look at my vines, beginning as emerald pebbles and then burgeoning into baseball size rubies, bursting with nutrition and life.
Before the Texas sun beats my jewels relentlessly, I will have many juicy bites of vitality hanging on those vines, awaiting my hand to pluck and possess all they have to offer.