To celebrate our tomato harvest, let's learn about the tomato...I don't think we've covered this one yet. Like the pepper, the tomato is in the "nightshade" (Solanaceae) family of plants, which originally hails from the Americas, and specifically Mexico. Eggplant and Potato are also in the nightshade family, and each of these are mildly toxic. In fact, many people around the world thought that tomato fruit was poisonous, and it was largely grown as an ornamental plant until the past few centuries.
We grow both hybrid and heirloom varieties. So what's the difference? Heirloom vegetables are open-pollinated, and their seeds can be saved and planted, and they will grow the same sort of plant the next season. People save seeds from plants that exhibit a specific trait (color, striping, sweet or tart flavor, storage quality, uniform ripeness, etc.), but they don't let varieties cross-breed. When you cross-breed a tomato, it becomes a hybrid. If you wanted to get a tomato that is sweet but matures early, you could breed the plants and get a new hybrid. The thing is that you can't save the seeds of a hybrid and expect them to be true the next year - they'll be like the parent plants. So the reason that a grocery store tomato doesn't hold a candle to a homegrown tomato comes down to the variety. Those tomato varieties, which are indeed hybrids, may ripen uniformly and produce lots of tomatoes, but they're often mealy in texture and lack flavor. Most heirlooms won't produce as well, but taste better (and look a lot cooler, too). The few hybrids that we plant are tasty as well as productive, so don't worry about that! Here are some of the varieties that are coming in now:
Speaking of Tomatoes, Will and Peter went to the Tomato Art Festival in East Nashville on Saturday. We set up at 7:30 am, after dropping off the big tomato dodecahedron, which you've seen a photo of in an earlier newsletter. Around 10 am, the festival really took off. We made a lot of connections and had a lot of support there. We sold a few things as well. Attendance was definitely in the thousands. We shared a table with Bells Bend Conservation Corridor, who, like us, want to "keep it country" out here in the bend. And, we were mentioned in The Tennesseean and NFocus recently. Cool!