The Last Tomato

Just ripened in the kitchen! A fat, juicy cherry tomato to be admired, salted and popped into my mouth on the last day of Fall. Or the first day of Winter, if I can wait. Which I likely won’t, being an impatient sort of gal. It’s a tradition at our house to have a homegrown tomato for Thanksgiving. And even one near Christmas, if we can manage.

Every year Rich and I grow a few tomato plants from big hearty starts, in garden boxes beside our back deck. We bury them up to their knees and hocks to encourage great root systems, in potting soil amended with magnesium, phosphorous, calcium and aged manure from my horse’s stable. Even poop has a purpose!

Usually we plant a large-tomato variety such as beefsteak for awesome slicing and yummy bruschetta, and a cherry or grape tomato plant for their heavy yield and speed of ripening. We make sure both types are indeterminate growers, which means these plants keep growing and producing to first frost. By September the vines are so long that you keep looking for Jack to climb up them to escape the Giant and find the pot of gold!

After first frost we start picking green tomatoes shading to yellow. We bring them indoors to ripen in a bowl. Some folks bread and fry these babies in butter. Not us. We like ’em ripe, thank you.

Which brings me to The Last Tomato, shown here. This cutie met its fate shortly after I shot this photo. Its skin wasn’t too tough, and its flavor was tartly sweet with just enough lip-smacking juice. Mmm.

Moral? Given the chance and nurtured with care, even a last or “older” tomato — like a mature writer — can fulfill its potential and bask in the spotlight.

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