Every gardener knows the first big tomato of the season is special.
It usually tastes better than any tomato you’ve eaten since you picked the last tomato the year before, because nothing beats a homegrown tomato.
It’s the culmination of looking through seed catalogs and websites for the best tomato varieties, then buying those seeds and sowing them, of tending to the seedlings, of carefully hardening them off after the danger of frost has passed, of planting them and suckering them and tying them to stakes, of watering them when needed, of watching the first blooms appear, of checking periodically for tomato hornworms, of monitoring that first tomato as it forms and grows; until one day, you decide it’s ripe enough to pick and even if it isn’t quite ripe, it’s better to pick it and let it ripen on the kitchen counter before a squirrel gets it, so that within a few days you can pose it for pictures before carefully slicing it and using it to make a classic BLT sandwich, always on sourdough toast with mayo, bacon and lettuce, which crunches most satisfyingly on the first bite as tomato juice runs down your chin and onto your shirt, giving you a nice stain souvenir so that anytime you see that particular shirt with that shadow of a spot on it you are reminded again of a warm, sunny summer day when the tomato vines were tall and full of promise.
You can’t buy that experience at the grocery store or even from a farmers market.
You must grow it, from seed, to truly understand what it’s all about!
For those who remember back in 2006 when I introduced The Ritual of the First Tomato, I did not forget…
For those who wonder about that picture, go back and read that original post and you’ll understand.
This year’s first big tomato is ‘Brightstar’, a beefsteak tomato variety sent to me by Burpee to trial. (Which technically I didn’t grow from seed, but trust me, there are plenty of tomato plants in the garden that I grew from seed for the above to apply.)