The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Tomatoist: Third Time’s the Charm

By Kevin Grzyb in Food on Mar 21, 2006 4:25PM

tomato3.gifEvery year right around this time, Chicagoist, much like the hurried metropolis we call home, undergoes a transformation, a metamorphosis, if you will. We’ve been known over the past couple of summers to raise our voices in triumphant praise of our favorite fruit, the glorious, homegrown tomato. Long and cold this winter has been while we wistfully went about our short daylight routine and put summer out of our minds. Yet, every time we paused at a salad course, looking down on the sad pseudo-scarlet slices that were woefully cultivated in hothouses, bathed in artificial light, we think ever so briefly – soon, so very soon. We were only caught muttering about the inadequacies of winter tomatoes under our breath once. The thought comes often enough.

tomato.gifWe’ve had a two year run of bad tomato luck. Some of our rooftop experiments, which were looking great, until a severe hail storm and the wrath of those cursed ninja squirrels brought a majority of the tender, young plants to their untimely demise. Those that survived the random interactions with nature were beaten down by the dry condition of last summer’s draught. Even with ritualistic watering the heat and the lack of humidity siphoned moisture from the reused pickle buckets we salvaged from our local lunch spot to use as makeshift planters on the roof. This year will be different. We just bought our first house. A house with a yard. A house with a yard full of dirt. A house with a yard full of dirt that, while aware of us, paid us disregard, like a dog too comfortable in the afternoon sun lounging on the couch, defying rule and training, to greet us, let alone with the customary exuberance anticipated . We digress. The garden will have ample exposure and real estate. Although the latter will come after what we’ll call ‘humorously civil debates’ the outcome of which will demarcate a line in the dirt, if you will, between our beloved green zebras and a perfectly nice bunch of flowers. The line will be begrudgingly agreed upon by both our lovely wife* and ourselves. Each feeling they gave up just enough to let the other believe the decision fell in their favor. The next morning at first dawn, we will go down and move said line half a foot in our clear favor.

We will keep the Tomatoist posts coming in order to document the process from seed to table. We’re currently in search of the seeds, scanning for heirloom varieties new and unique, and researching organic heirloom availability. Tomatoist is an equal opportunity gardener, in that spirit, we’re also looking into heirloom cucumbers, zucchini, tomatillos and peppers.

* Note: we’re on the fence (or offense) of this aspect of ‘we-ist’ speak.

Images via: & (3D reconstruction of high resolution tomato MRI's)