“Picking” tomatoes

One my favorite things to do after tax season each year is to select tomato varieties for the coming gardening season. 

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Around seven years ago, before I expanded my lawn into what had been my vegetable garden area in the interest of making my house more “marketable”, I had the space to grow twenty varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  Now I only have space for ten, so I must be ruthless in my selection.

Every year I keep a “tomatobase” of information regarding my favorite crop.  The information that I track includes the number of fruits produced by each plant, the date of the first ripe fruit, and the characteristics that I particularly like or do not like about the variety. 

Okay, you can quit laughing now.  I mean, after all, is it really that big a jump from being a “bean counter” to counting tomatoes?

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 The purpose of accumulating all of this information is to help in making the selection for the coming year’s plantings.  As an example, if a variety produced a high number of fruits, but they tasted like an old sponge, it probably won’t be back this year.  A lower producing variety with incredible tasting fruit will be more likely to make the cut.  (Does this remind anybody else of hiring employees?)

I try to get a broad spectrum of fruit characteristics, cherry tomatoes and standards, and fruits in a rainbow of colors – red, orange, yellow, green, and purple – in my selection. Most of my fruit is eaten fresh, or shared with friends, and my two dogs Ace and Blue look forward to eating fresh cherry tomatoes while standing in the garden on a warm summer evening. Blue, clever boy that he is, will even nose around under the tomato leaves trying to find an extra ripe fruit to be eaten on the sly.

At the end of the growing season, the remaining unripe fruit is converted into green tomato chutney and pickles and canned. These items are included in Christmas boxes mailed to various relatives around the country including a bunch up in Alaska.

So what lessons have I learned from my tomato obsession?  Grow what you love, grow what works best for you, share what you grow, and remember that dogs appreciate good things too!  All of these lessons can be applied to your business or life in general.

And most of all, whatever you do, have a good time while you’re doing it.

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