I love a parade. I realized that there’s something ceremonial, parade-like, in my gardening, and ceremonial prominence for me, without exception, goes to growing the heirloom tomato.
First, the visioning of the plant site. What’s the optimimum available sunlight? It’s like setting the parade route. Then comes the preparation of the garden… this year what’s known as “lasagna gardening”… enriching the site with layers of organic soil, peat, newspapers, decomposed leaf mold, without double-digging. The joy of buying the plants is next, like culling the order of the parade participants for maximum impact. The Yellow Red Butt, yellow with red streaks? The Tiffen Mennonite, a very rare pink-skinned large beefsteak? Carbon, the very sweet dark red/black slicer? Aunt Ruby’s German, the 12-16 oz large green, yellow-tinted with a pink blush? The Black Seaman, my all-time fav? Red, yellow, pink cherries?
The planting ritual is like blessing the processioners. Om. Be well and do good, My Child. Notice how the plants respond in growth and form so quickly to your care. It’s the plants’ version of an attention response that goes with being an exhibitionistic parader. Look at me!
Watering, weeding and pruning are the minor course adjustments one makes when parading to the final site. Always refining for the best possible [parade] production.
Today is the payoff, the first of many. The beginning, and the end. The First Tomato. Christened ‘Black Cherry’, it’s a dark hue dusky-colored cherry. Before picking and eating, I fluff the leaves of the plant with my hand, wafting over the fruit as if to give it absolution, breathing in the intoxicating tomato musk.
The Essence, the ineffable quality of a living thing, culminates in the finished product, like the reward of having communed in fun and mischief with parade-goers. No need to define. Just enjoy.