Homegrown Tomatoes

I picked the first homegrown tomatoes from my grandparents tomato vines earlier this morning for them. My grandparents are 90 this year! Their garden is always sown with the seeds of life & love. The garden is actually mostly tomatoes, and a few other vegetables when you look at it, but it was truly a labor of love. My cousin actually planted most of the garden for them this year. Of course that makes the garden extra special to them.

Let’s talk about the mystique of a homegrown tomato. Granny has been anticipating the arrival of the first ripe tomato for the last week or so. Her plants have been loaded with with green tomatoes. Every time I visit them, we would go analyze those tomato plants and talk about how pretty they look, and wonder when the first one would ripen. I joked with Granny the other day and told her she needed to go on vacation so her tomatoes would ripen— one of those old Southern sayings. It is the mystique of the homegrown tomato… when will it ripen? How many will we have? Anticipating the taste of that first fresh tomato…

Well, it happened today, I think I actually picked about 5 red, ripe tomatoes! My grandparents were so excited about those first few tomatoes, as I was as well.

Gardening has always been a big part of my grandparents summers in the past years. Lots of great gardening advice has been taught to me by my grandparents-Passed down to all of us- kids, grandkids, & great grandchildren. We all cherish the gardening experience with the love, life and joy that our grandparents brought to the garden.

So what do you say is so great about a tomato? Oh, nothing is as good as a fresh tomato in a tossed salad. Lots of Southern folks love a good old tomato sandwich this time of year. I have never been a big fan of that one. BLT’s, fried green tomatoes, homemade tomato sauce, salsa… the list goes on and on…. ahh that must be the joy:)

Gardening tradition goes on at my house too. Growing tomatoes are on the top of my list to always have growing. Tomatoes ( tommy toes) are a bit of a snack for my son at our house this time of year. He will eat them off the vine- meaning they actually never make it into the house.

Elvis, our beagle basset dog- loves to eat tomatoes off the vine as well. I have moved my tomato plants this year to try to keep the tomato plants out of his view and out of his sight! Elvis literally eats them green or red… he doesn’t care!

Caring for our tomatoes requires watering, and sometimes pest control advice ( Wayne and Eddie are experts at Wilkes County Hardware for that ) . When I get a bit stumped, I seek them out to see how my gardening issue can be resolved. Obviously, I am not unique in that situation, many people have asked our store experts for help with gardening questions. Those guys are quite helpful and resourceful!

Often people come into Wilkes County Hardware to purchase tomato cages in order to help support the plants as they grow. I also put out several tomato cages around my grandparents tomato vines this spring to add that extra support they needed. What a difference it does make!

The winter of 2017 was the first year that Wilkes County Hardware sold tomato cages in the “off season”! Yes, we did— we had beautiful tomato cage Christmas trees out front of our hardware store on display and people wanted to make/purchase those. No mystery there, with a few zip ties and a tomato cage, and lights – the transformation was complete into a Christmas tree. It was a unique idea to share with our customers.

The mystique of a homegrown tomato might be truly a Southern experience- the anticipation of the harvest, waiting, predicting ripen time… I think those homegrown tomatoes always seem to appear around the arrival of Dog Days of Summer. Regardless, they are a great reminder to me of gardening with love, and the joy & anticipation of the harvest. Enjoy those delicious and beautiful homegrown tomatoes y’all!!!

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