Oh the horror: tomato waste
Doing fall garden cleanup, I am always so surprised how much green STUFF there is afterward.
Not that I am complaining (necessarily). This is the time of year the compost piles get big: big because of the normal input of fall cleanup, and big by design (bigger piles are more insulated, and thus will continue their happy warm rotting without freezing, all the quicker for spring’s compost needs). So more stuff is definitely a good thing.
But apparently there’s a question about what kind of stuff hits the growing pile.
My friend Michele, on her pre-dinner tour of the garden last Saturday, said “What is it with you farmer types, and all these rotting tomatoes on the ground?” (For our kids’ school last weekend, she headed up a gleaning event at a cool organic farm nearby: they got lots of free tomatoes for salsa for the school. Evidently she saw a lot of fallen tomatoes and it disheartened her.) I tried to explain that real farmers like the Arboreals have real customers who don’t really appreciate a spotty tomato, so the fallen ones were probably rejects. And for fake farmers like me, my family’s needs were met fairly early, so I yanked the plants. (The ones she’d seen were in or near enough to the compost. Sometimes my aim is bad.)
I did understand what she was getting at, though. It wasn’t so very long ago that I was a city gardener with Every Tomato Is Precious etched on my garden consciousness. An example: In the Minneapolis garden, the first ear of corn I ever harvested was so positively priceless (though quite small) that I ran it to the kitchen and I…ate it raw. Like so many things in this life, it is a question of scale. My tomatoes are still precious, though at this point I don’t know them all personally. I kind of wish I did: that I had that kind of time, not necessarily that I need fewer tomatoes to get to know.
Next year, though, I don’t need as many tomatoes. I’ve learned my lesson.