Do you know where your food comes from?
This week we picked our first ripe tomatoes for the season. Each year this is a ceremonious occasion that marks the beginning of several months of eating plump, sweet, juicy and tasty tomatoes. There is nothing quite like the flavour of home grown tomatoes. Anyone who has raised their own, be it one bush in a pot in the sun, or rows of them in the vegetable garden, will testify as to the exquisite flavour when compared to the ‘cricket balls’ that are available commercially that have been bred to travel and look bright red regardless of their degree of ripeness.
We watch in awe as the tiny flat disk like seeds planted in early November, hopefully after the frosts, germinate and grow into vibrant green vines that become a tangled mass of leaves and stems, punctuated with groups of lemon yellow daisy like flowers buzzing with bees. As the petals turn brown and shrivel, little pale green balls emerge, deepening to a rich emerald as they grow to their full size. Remarkably, it is the tomatoes deep within the greenery that ripen first, turning pale yellow to bright orange and then deep red, with a few exceptions. Some heritage tomatoes are bright orange, burgundy or even green when fully ripe.
One of the best parts about growing our own tomatoes, and many other vegetables, is that we know where they came from; our own vegetable garden, using nothing more than water from our dam and healthy soil. We continually increase the organic matter in our soil to encourage the growth of biota that build the natural immunity of the plants to pests and diseases, and produce tasty tomatoes high in nutrient value. And we mostly grow heritage varieties so we know they have been bred for flavour rather than travelling and handling. So we get to enjoy great flavoured tomatoes, free of pesticides and herbicides, no ‘food miles’ incurred, grown right on our doorstep!
It is wonderful to be able to wander out to the vegetable garden in the late afternoon and pick the day’s luscious ripenings to prepare the evening meal. Not all of them make it to the kitchen, I must admit, as the temptation is too great, and besides, it’s a healthy snack, fresh from the garden.