Friday, August 2, 2013

Free Range Friday ~ Culebra

What is more luscious than a ripe tomato in the heat of summer? A real tomato, one you or someone with more than they know what to do with, has grown? I'd say, not much. A tomato you've grown, either from a seedling or a seed itself, is so much bigger than the sum of its parts, and all of that is there, the moment that first bite touches your tongue. Sun and rain, tending and watching. The moment that it starts to redden on the vine, trying your patience for the exact second that a gentle twist of your wrist lets it fall into your hand; all of that and more is in the taste. It's a beautiful thing.

Because I didn't know for sure that I'd be here all of summer, there weren't a lot of tomatoes planted, just a few seeds randomly thrown here and there. If I'm around all summer next year, I'll do more, I'll do better. I'll get some heirloom varities, specifically for hot climates. I'll...well. But the few tomatoes I've reaped are even more precious because of their scarcity. Rubies in the mouth.

When I ordered my first garden seeds close to, very close to, 40 years ago, I found Nichols Garden Nursery, still in business. The catalog was a treasure trove and I was the miner - all sorts of vegetables and tomatoes of course. I was also literally led down the garden path to try Jerusalem artichokes (neither from Jerusalem or artichokes), kohlrabi, peanuts, rhubarb, broccoli, hot peppers, sweet peppers and much more.

Garden bonus
The new to me tastes of the Jerusalem artichokes, the kohlrabi, the rhubarb, nutty, crunchy, tart mixed with the familiar but not so at all because they were grown in our garden! made for huge discoveries; not just of my own abilities in gardening, but in the whole process and then onto the cooking part. I was a beach girl, a traveler, this was a whole new world. I was told a garden wouldn't grow where we planted but indeed it did. I've been told you can't grow a garden on Culebra. A whole lot of people know that too, isn't true.

Unless you live in a cave you can most likely grow at least one tomato plant. Even here. Yes, it's late in many places to start growing tomatoes (unless you live down under, where you'd better get started!), but you can start planning for next year. Catalogs are fun! Here are a few, some you may know, some may be new. Enjoy. Oh, and by the way? sound smart. Remember, a tomato is a fruit, not a vegetable!

A garden of a different sort. The painters were busy yesterday.
 Have a frolicsome Friday! Do something favorably flavorful.


  1. what a beautiful "headress" that little bird has... he/she must turn heads wherever she shows up..! i wonder what type of bird that is? i don't recall seeing one like that on st john.....
    that's a classicly beautiful picture looking toward st thomas, i think it is.........!
    yes, nothing like the taste of a great tomato......... too bad i have a tooth which i'm afraid,due to the pain of hot and cold, is going to need a "root canal"....

    1. He is an Antillean Crested hummingbird. I never saw them in the VI's either, but according to bird info, they are there. The females have the brilliant colors but not the crest. Yes, that is St. Thomas in the background! As someone who has had 3 root canals, I'll toss out this advice, get it taken care of, the reputation is far worse than the reality these days. The first one I had, almost 20 years ago, wasn't enjoyable. The last two, I barely knew I'd had surgery, it just wasn't that big a deal. A lot better than losing a tooth and all three dentists were willing to work out a payment plan with me, as I didn't have insurance for that. Good luck, the tomato is well worth it!

  2. interesting about the hummingbird... seeing st thomas from the west is the opposite of how i have seen it from st john my whole early life........other than approaching for a landing from puerto rico or the states once 727's could land on st t. in the mid 1960's........actually, my first "approach" was early nov. 1954, from the west on a caribair DC3 after having been born in san juan's old presbyterian hospital on oct 14th..!
    it's been 5 or more years since my last root canal of 2 or 3 i think i've had and it's harder than ever to get a reasonably priced, good,ethical dr. as a friend told be yesterday at the downtown farmers' market... he said his wife who cleans teeth for a living, might say, "they're all in it for the money"... i had an upper next to last tooth pulled several years ago but i can't give up on this lower molar because i need it for chewing based on all the others having been pulled for braces , as a kid...........and i regret having the one pulled but my pain was incredible and my reg. dr wasn't available.... that poor tooth suffered from poor judgement and a lack of funding; a "perfect storm" for its demise......yes, a good tomato is worth it..!

  3. First approach, good story! There ARE good dentists around, I swear it! Even in the states I found them. But like looking for a pair of shoes, shopping is needed and hard to do. Good luck!