EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


September 6, 2013

A close relationship with the tomato

Savory pie makes use of summer's bounty

My father and grandfather had green thumbs when it came to growing vegetables; and tomatoes especially would be prolific in their gardens.

They both were able to develop a close relationship with the tomato it seemed; they would treat them like their babies. It started in mid to late May when they would prepare the soil in the huge garden. Dad would place his tomato plants several feet apart and would water them in the evenings (“most important to water after the sun goes down,” he would say). He would use metal cages that were a couple of generations old to support the weight of the branches as the tomato plants grew. I remember him saying that tomato plants needed lots of attention, and he would be out in the garden pruning and tying back branches, and yes, talking to his plants. My father always said that tomato plants are easily manipulated and will produce more with the attention you give them.

He would continue to water and fertilize until an abundance of green tomatoes were big and heavy on the vines. Then the begging for hot, sunny days would begin.

Every day began with the weather report and was discussed fully at the breakfast table. Somehow the sun always came and did its job, as big, bright red fruit would continue to ripen, and he always knew just when to pick them, saying that the best flavor was when tomatoes were in full color. I can attest to that statement as I would eat many a tomato that I had picked right off the vine and eat it while it was warm from the sun.

Somehow he had tomatoes growing right into autumn, and that is when my mother’s talents took over; canning and making tomato juice, amongst many other tomato recipes.

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