Monday, May 5, 2008

Brandywine Blossoms

Home grown tomatoes. Mom has been planting tomatoes since before I was born and selling them from a roadside stand for as long as I can remember. She likes Celebritys. They are a dependable performer with quite a few resistances bred in, but mostly it's the variety she found works for her, and she just never switched. There are, these days, bigger and better tomatoes, but she swears by Celebrity. The time of her life to try new things is past, and she'll plant Celebrity till she dies. I wouldn't be surprised if she did die in those tomato rows, and I'm sure nothing would make her happier.

That's how I want to go, dead in the garden. In fact, it's where I request to end up, cremated and spread in a garden, preferably among the tomatoes, with the compost. If they'd let you bury people just any-ol'-where, that would be even better, but there are laws against it.

Unlike my mom, I don't have large acreage drenched with the Kansas sun and swept clean by the winds. She plants tomatoes by the hundred or so, but I put in about 5 plants, and I experiment with varieties. This year I planted 1 Celebrity (a nod to Mom), a Beefsteak, a yellow (because they're pretty canned) and two Brandywines, which are heirloom varieties.

Brandywines. I never planted them before, but I have longed to. I never could justify ordering 1 or 2 plants because of the shipping. This year, though, my grocery store had a few on their racks, so I snatched a couple plants and tucked them into the spots on my garden map labeled 'tomatoes.' In the process, nudging out reliable performers (with disease and pest resistance) I might have planted in that prime real estate.

Ahh, but Brandywine! The name alone makes me heady. Planted, and then, walking through on my morning rounds, teacup in hand, sun just filtering through the eastern trees, and there is a bloom on the Brandywine! The first of my tomatoes to blossom, beating out Celebrity and Beefsteak, which don't even have a hint of a bud yet! How could I have known?! I read nothing about Brandywine being an early tomato, but there it is, not just one bloom, but two, and there are more buds at the node. In fact, it's PROLIFIC with buds.

If only...if only these intrepid plants of mine will go the distance, but I mean to set my heart to it, to help them along, to set their fruits and, finally, to drop one of those wine-hued tomatoes into my hand. Not even to eat it at first, but just to hold it tender and ripe in my palm, glowing and bountiful. After I've gloated sufficiently, then only then to taste it...

Now I'm fantasizing, and not even with caution! Windstorms may bow the Brandywines to the ground. Hail may shred the leaves to the stem. White flies may suck out their vigor. My heart will be broken for sure if I don't settle down to earth and follow my father's advice, "Don't count your chickens until they've hatched."

I won't, Dad, but imagine the possibilities!

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