Tomatomania! – The Rite of Spring

Home grown is greater than store bought

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Pick up your shovel and your hoe! Well, where the heck did winter go, and when did Spring arrive? The fever is rising. Spring is here, and that means time to prepare your soil and plan the garden. Bart and I performed our very own rite of Spring this morning when we went to Tomatomania!, the ne plus ultra of tomato sales.

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The Tomatomania! folks gathered a dizzying array of tomato seedlings from which to choose. Hundreds of varieties, thousands of individual plants greeted us this morning when we drove to Tapia Brothers Farm in Encino, California.

Also offered for sale were products for soil preparation along with herbs (lots of basil, of course) vegetables, even artichoke plants, fertilizers and how-to books. Plus some very cool tee shirts. Wear your shirt and get a 10% discount. Now that’s friendly gardening!

One of the best things about a sale of this size is talking to other gardeners and listening in on their conversations. Every year I have an opportunity to trade opinions with others. The good thing about an in-person sale like this is the people you speak with live in the same microclimate as you, and you can really come away with good info about which plants do well in you area.

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I picked up some old favorites like Martino’s Roma, Costoluto Fiorentino, Copia and Ananas Noire. It was almost impossible to stop selecting plants. I tried some new ones too; I was thrilled to see the Michael Pollan tomato, a new hybrid named after the author of Tomatoland. New to my garden for 2012 are Austin’s Red Pear, Spun Sugar, Pink Oxheart and Black Zebra, to name just a few. The only difficult part was stopping.

If perhaps it is peppers or eggplants you are after – check Cross Country Nurseries. Their catalogue lists the country of origin of each plant; you can plant all Italian if you like. The catalogue lists the size of each plant and the food it produces along with the heat index for every pepper. They have hundreds of varieties and will ship to you at just the right planting time for your area.

Are you looking for that very odd radicchio you ate near Venice? Perhaps the strange pepper you had in Puglia? Or the weird eggplant in Sicily? Look no farther than Seeds From Italy. With 32 different varieties of beans alone they have vegetables that you will never see in an American supermarket. Choose from 7 different varieties of basil, 12 varieties of radicchio. or 15 of chicory. Their catalogue is an absolute treasure trove.

I hope I have inspired you to start a garden this year. Gardening is a peaceful, restorative pursuit. It brings you close to the earth, and with your first bite of home grown you will learn what gardeners every where already know – home grown is superior to anything you can purchase in a market. With a little bit of time and research, you can plant an Italian garden that will be the envy of the neighborhood.

The Encino Tomatomania! sale runs through this weekend. Check the Tomatomania! web site for a sale near you. And don’t despair – if you can’t find a sale near you, they sell seedlings online. Check Tomatomania! on Facebook for updates.

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I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.

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2 Comments

  1. Comment by Cara@DueSpaghetti:

    We didn’t know about Seeds of Italy – what a delight!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hello Cara,

      Oh well, then I am thrilled to be able to turn you on to them. The catalogue is a complete mindblower, and there is still plenty of time to plant. You just will not believe it. Have fun gardening, and I would love to have a shot of your garden for my Readers’ Gallery!

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