Low Maintenance And The Tomato

You have a problem with that?
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Surely it is not an uncommon fear of the garden blogger.  You are taking photos in the neighborhood, possibly of something badly pruned, and the homeowner comes out and asks you if there is a problem.  Well, as a matter of fact, yes, with the way you mutilated this Cycas revoluta:
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Actually, I didn't say that.  Instead, we had a nice conversation about palms and cycads.  We both shared a loathing of the California Weed Palm, Washingtonia robusta.  I admired the group of Archontophoenix cunninghamiana lining the walkway to his front door (they were beautiful), and I asked him about a similar palm I could not identify, several fine specimens of which lined the outer edge of his lawn.  Another Archontophoenix?  He called it a "Taiwanese" palm, which gave me no clue.   I thought maybe Archontophoenix alexandrae.  If you know, please tell.  Update:  it's Roystonia regia, the Cuban Royal Palm.  Well, Taiwan and Cuba are both islands...
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What fascinated me was the homeowner's sincere affection and pride in his palm collection ("I have twenty more kinds in the back!") coupled with a very firm "I want low maintenance!" attitude.  I've always thought "low maintenance" meant "I have no clue what that plant is, and I don't care." However this homeowner was quite different.  He loved his palm collection; he simply didn't want to fuss over his palm collection.  I felt the better for the conversation, and didn't mention the Cycad at all.  
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It occured to me later that I have much the same attitude as the palm-owner about growing tomatoes.  I love tomatoes, I want tomatoes, but I don't want to fuss about them.  No search for new special heirloom varieties every year.  No pouring over descriptions of succulent caramel flavor overtones or balanced acids or green stripes.  No tomato tasting, no special seed purchases or trades.  I don't care.  Any home grown tomato, even the fruits produced by the chance seedlings deposited by a bird's back end, is going to taste pretty wonderful, and light years better than any bought tomato, even any farmer's market organic heirloom.  Or so I have found.  I've tried heirlooms, yes, and they are wonderful, and the plant produces two small fruit, then sits there the rest of the season.  The heck with heirlooms.  I want...yield!
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So I buy the cheapest big-box six-packs I can find, and look for packs with two or three tomatoes in each cell.  And they grow, produce a lot of fruit, and we are happy.   This means I am not a Real Tomato Gardener.  I am a Tomato atheist.  No mystery, no hope, no faith in the next new Messiah of flavor.  Give me Better Boy, Early Girl, Celebrity, Beefsteak, Mortgage Lifter, the Washingtonia robustas of the tomato world.  Give me yield.  
Today I got a couple of $1.78 four-packs at Lowe's, instead of the $3.99 for each plant I've been seeing this year.  Almost every cell of my four-packs had more than one seedling--my two four-packs yielded (that word again!) fifteen plants.  So, I was able to appreciate the palm owner a little more.  Why fuss? There is room in the garden for the...easy!  I only wish he'd moved the Cycas revoluta away from the sidewalk, instead of hacking it, and come to think of it, his beautiful "Taiwanese" palms are soon to be hitting the power lines above them, and sadly, will probably be removed by the electric company.  But no way am I ever paying $3.99 for a tomato seedling. 

Comments

  1. Respectfully Hoov, I never shop at big box stores and a 3.99 tom seedling would probably net me 20 bucks worth of tomatoes over the season. If I was feeling particularly thrifty, I would buy a pack of seeds. However , I love your puppies.

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  2. @ks, all too true! I did the seed thing last year, and it was wonderful, but this year, there are puppies...

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  3. I snapped a few photos one evening, it was a bizarre garden with up ended golf clubs promenantly featured. I wasn't going to say nice things.

    About 3 blocks later the now out jogging homeowner caught up to me, and said something like "I hope you got good pictures, I've never had anyone appreciate my golf clubs before"...busted! I deleted those pics as son as I got home.

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  4. Awww, Danger! Now I want to see the golf club garden!

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  5. You should know that Mortgage Lifter goes back to the '40s and Beefsteak is an English variety that's even older. So unless your "beefsteak" has some modifiers and is marked F1 hybrid, 40% of your chosen group are open-pollinated and more that 50 years old, which makes them Heirlooms. Not all heirlooms are low yeilding or demanding.

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  6. Thanks for pointing that out, HelenB. I'm glad to learn something new. So...maybe I am a "real" tomato grower after all? ;)

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  7. Fantastic if you can grow palms in your garden. Overhere it's to cold for them they won't survey our winters. I am pleased that overhere you can buy tomatospecies who can be grown in a container. I just have a very small garden and this container don't take much space. The taste of the self grown tomatoes is so much different from the ones you can buy in a groceryshop.
    gr. Marijke

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