Have you noticed that vegetable gardening is hip again? I love this trend that Americans of all ages are experimenting with growing their own food. Whether their vegetables and fruit are being grown to supplement food from the grocery store or if the intent is to eat mostly from the garden, vegetable gardening (and horticulture) is having its day in the sun. Some may argue that this is not true ornamental gardening while I will counter, “Hello! This is what we have been waiting for!” Grow your own is climbing in popularity as the next generation of gardeners wants to see where their food comes from.
One of the vegetables that I love (or is it a fruit?) is Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter tomato. Almost every American loves a fresh tomato from the garden in the middle of summer. Better yet, make that tomato an heirloom tomato. Have you ever grown and eaten an heirloom variety? People talk about how it tastes differently and they are correct. In our Pennsylvania vegetable garden, we grew Brandywine tomatoes which were fabulous. The flavors are deep and intense because the fruit have not been overbred for size instead of taste. The Mortgage Lifter tomato is one popular heirloom that combines a big, meaty plant with good taste. The entire story of this tomato can be found here. The notion that one guy, Radiator Charlie, can turn a hobby into a breeding program that pays his mortgage is a remarkable story.
With the popularity of vegetable gardening and farm to table eating growing exponentially, the more plants with wonderful stories like this tomato, the better. Even here on the coast of Maine, where small cherry and plum tomatoes do better because of their shorter maturity time, we are going to try growing the Mortgage Lifters this summer. They have an 80 day maturity period so we should be able to produce a few substantial fruits. Along with the ripe, plump, Mortgage Lifter tomatoes, one of our friends raises hogs so maybe we can get a few packs of locally raised bacon. Combine with this some of my wife’s homemade bread and I am already dreaming of late summer, farm to table, Mortgage Lifter BLT sandwiches.
What do you think of the vegetable gardening and farm to table movement? Do you think it will still be a big movement in 5 or 10 years? More specifically, what are some of your favorite tomato varieties?