I have Gilligan standing guard over my garden this summer. I put up a new scarecrow a few days back, and while the shirt has a Hawaiian flair, the hat is definitely of the S.S. Minnow vintage.
So far, Gilligan is doing a pretty good job of providing whimsical panache to my plot and keeping most critters at bay. Of course, the 8-foot fence around the patch is also doing wonders. I erected this after the scarecrow project, mainly because of the precious produce I have growing in this area-my Marianna Peace tomatoes.
Faithful readers of this column will recall the article I wrote when I sowed the seeds for these plants. That weekend in March it was sleeting (again) and I was so sick of the relentless, terrible weather that planting these seeds, with tweezers no less, in tiny cups of dirt was a boon to my winter- weary soul. I rejoiced when the little shoots popped out of the soil, and I’m proud to say I had a phenomenal germination rate. In fact, I ended up with more than 25 thriving seedlings.
While I patted myself on the back for this amazing feat, I also knew I would not be able to consume the plethora of fruits that would result if all these plants came to fruition. So…I decided to spread a little “Peace.”
I thought long and hard about who I would bestow these plants on. I took a maternal slant to who would best nurture these beauties. For sure, they would have to be avid and enthusiastic gardeners but they would also have to be fervent tomato lovers because I know these plants, barring a major disaster, will produce specimens that will inspire awe and wonder, not to mention some mighty fine eating.
Once I had the candidates picked out, I started to distribute my babies. And the expressions and reactions I received were inspiring. Of course, everyone was very thankful, but the sheer delight I saw in these friends when receiving one of my Marianna Peace tomato seedlings made me smile. Some were reverent, some were appreciative and all were excited to be the recipients of a little “peace,” even if it was in the form of a tomato plant.
This distribution, in a very informal way, has now created a sort of loose-knit Marianna Peace tomato club. When I see the people I have bestowed these plants on, immediately the conversation turns to their progress. We talk about the best tomato growing methods and, of course, I hear over and over again how these beauties will be used in recipes. In fact, one friend gave me an interesting and easy recipe for Tomato Salad in a Jar and I am sharing that this week. I’m always looking for recipes to use when my garden produce is coming in, and I know this one will be a favorite.
I realize that actually picking ripe tomatoes from my Mariannas is a few weeks off. However, I’m enjoying the day-to-day comments I get from “club” members and there is no finer joy than watching them flourish in my own patch.
I don’t think it’s an inaccurate statement to make that the world, and its inhabitants, could always use a little more peace. But I surely never thought that it could be delivered in the form of a small tomato plant. I think even Gilligan would be impressed.
Tomato Salad in a Jar
1 ripe tomato
1 Tbs. dill (fresh is best, if available)
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp honey
1 lg. Mason jar with a lid
2 Tbs. olive oil
Dice up the tomato, cucumber and onion. Layer these vegetables in the Mason jar by first adding tomatoes, then some cucumber, then onions. Continue to layer until vegetables are all in the jar. Mix thoroughly the dill, vinegar, salt, honey and olive oil in a bowl. Pour over vegetables, put on the lid, and flip the jar a few times so all the liquid flows over the veggies. This will keep up to three days in the refrigerator, but it won’t last that long!