Thursday, September 9, 2010


Last weekend I had the opportunity to spend a few hours sampling little bites of about 30 tomato varieties. This is something I do rather often here in my garden but it was special this day for two reasons. The tomato tasting was hosted by a man known as the tomato king. To me, he's Steve. Steve has been giving growing classes for as long as I have been growing and I've been fortunate to be the recipient of his knowledge and understanding of how tomatoes grow. Earlier this year, he and I discussed the pros and cons of hydroponic tomato growing. He had been asked to do some trials using a hydroponic set-up and asked for opinions, so I gave mine. To me, growing tomatoes is almost as much about the act of doing as it is about the fruits of my labor. I have spent years learning how to improve my soil so that it can feed and support my plants while I am feeding and supporting it. Using a hydroponic gizmo just seemed to defeat the whole purpose.

Steve decided to give the thing a try and he promised to keep me apprised of plant growth and production throughout the season. At the tomato tasting I was able to sample the fruit picked from the plant grown in water. When I arrived I was honored that Steve came to me and said "Come here, I need your expertise." Wow - that was a compliment I never expected to hear! He took me over to a pretty red tomato, all cut up and ready for sampling and told me to take a bite.

I was taught to be polite so when I took a bite and said "that's awful" it was quite a surprise. But it was. Then he gave me a bite of another red tomato. He told me both tomatoes were Early Girl. The second bite was full of earthy flavor and tasted like a tomato should! One was grown in the ground in Steve's backyard and the other was the hydroponic experiment. You know, of course, which was which. The moral of the story?? Tasty tomatoes are grown in healthy soil and not in water - remember, I always tell you not to overwater! This is proof!

Before I left I approached Steve and said, "Now I need some of your expertise." I pulled the mystery tomato out of my bag and held it up for him to see. Within a nano second he simply said "Green Pineapple". That's why he's the Tomato King. Thanks, Steve.

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