Home Grown Tomatoes, Or, I'm Turning Into Ouiser Boudreaux

Heirloom tomatoes - photo credit: TheShopTart.com
Heirloom tomatoes - photo credit: TheShopTart.com
If you have ever heard Papa Futch perform this song with the Blue Dogs, you'll know what I'm talking about. He leads into the song about waiting for your tomatoes to ripen with a monologue that is adorable. The Dogs covered "Home Grown Tomatoes" on their Soul Dog Food album and it remains one of my favorite tunes, kitschy as it is.

Why? Because I am completely in love with tomatoes. I am quite fond of the Blue Dogs, too, but tomatoes are pretty much my favorite thing to eat, period. I take growing them quite seriously and basically threw a hissy fit when all the rain we've had lately threatened my heirloom crop that has been doing so well.

When I first started trying to grow them, I asked everyone I knew  how to be good at it. One of the funniest things I heard from a long-time gardener was that everyone who successfully grows tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and such generally runs into a point during the summer where they have given away produce to all their neighbors, family, and friends, and yet the veggies keep on coming. When I asked what the solution was, she stated, "Well, generally I just sneak onto the porch, drop the veggies off and then run." Sounds like a plan to me, I thought. You feel free to just drop that right off at my place.

Thinking she was exaggerating, I didn't really understand what she meant until the first summer after I got married. My father-in-law made an awesome garden and the cucumbers were prolific. We made pickles. Lots and lots and lots of pickles. We ate cucumbers constantly. The tomatoes, though, were harder to get rid of. Apparently there are some poor misguided souls who don't like tomatoes. And I just honestly don't even know what to say about that. And by the end of the summer, I was indeed about to start knocking on doors and running away.

Tomato growing in the South is an art, and by some accounts, not even an option. In the movie Steel Magnolias, Ouiser (right) tries to give Clairee tomatoes. When Clairee protests about the number in the bag, Ouiser states she doesn't even like them, so someone else has to eat them. The conversation that ensues is the God's honest truth and I have actually heard several variations of it in real life.

Anelle: "Then why do you grow them?"
Ouiser: "Because I'm an old Southern woman and we're supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don't ask me those questions. I don't know why, I don't make the rules!"

About a year ago, I stated that the perfect tomato sandwich would be my last meal  if I were able to chose. I stand by that assessment wholeheartedly. Some of my other favorite ways to enjoy this amazing food (besides the perfect sandwich) is in a tomato pie or in caprese.

So tell me: Do you grow tomatoes? Do you have secrets you'll divulge? What's your favorite way to eat them?

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Rebeccah Connelly June 25, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Do it! My favorite place to get tomato plants is at Sea Island Savory Herbs on John's Island. They propagate their own seedlings and are very helpful and informative. You will love it. Honestly, you can have a very enjoyable cherry tomato crop with a five gallon bucket, some decent topsoil and one good plant. Give it a try!
Betsi Green June 26, 2013 at 10:19 AM
Wonderful blog post. Just adorable. I'm a newbie when it comes to digging in the dirt. What's the best way to get into growing tomatoes? Buy an established plant and just pop it in the ground and pray? Start one in a container? Any suggestions? And BTW, you don't even have to bring them to my front porch (although you're welcome)...I'll come and get 'em!
Lindsay Street June 26, 2013 at 10:33 AM
Betsy, great questions! Container gardening might work best for you. Make sure you have 6 full hours of sun for your tomato plant. Growing from seeds is tougher than buying a plant and the tomato season is underway, so why not get a jump start? A container also means you can put in really good soil. The easiest would be just doing half topsoil, half organic compost mix. Then plant your seedling! Next, you'll want to water it immediately, and put mulch on top to prevent it from drying out. Make sure soil never turns to dust — you want to be able to squeeze the soil into a shape, but don't want it too wet! And then patience! You'll get the green tomatoes about 3-4 weeks before they ripen. You just have to stare at them until they ripen on the vine, though! Unless you like fried green tomatoes (I do!). I bet Rebeccah has some more suggestions!
Rebeccah Connelly June 26, 2013 at 01:04 PM
I love fried green tomatoes but I don't do them myself - I basically either catch them on fire or the breading turns to mush BUT that obviously is operator error. ;-)
stanley seigler July 06, 2013 at 03:28 PM
Big George's barbecue and fried green tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe sounds great...


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