I'm daughter to Lissie, sister to Jess, wife to Brien, mom to Hannah, Lily and Eleanor. I am a stay at home mom to my girls, and my free time is dedicated to gardening (I confess I'm still a novice and look to Lissie and Jess for advice), baking and cooking, and card making. I'm doing my part to make the earth a bit greener, trying hard to avoid processed foods and HFCS, and find the "slow food" movement intriguing and inspiring. I love visits to my local farmers' market, fresh produce, reading, getting out in nature, and spending time with my family.


Catholic, homeschooler, lover of books and great wine and an amateur gardening addict.


I'm Melissa aka "Lissie", mother of Rachael and Jessica, and grandmother to a passel of the sweetest children on the planet. I'm a semi-retired public educator and professor who works from home for a small publisher. I am a lover of all things beautiful ... flowers, the mountains, nature scenes, the innocent faces of children, and my rock and fossil collection, to name a few. I enjoy shopping at the farmers' market for fresh foods and then experimenting with new recipes. Good food and good wine delight me. I love to travel so my suitcase is always packed. Like my daughters, I take pleasure in simple things ... clothes drying on the line, tomatoes so fresh they are still hot from the sun, good books, and interesting movies. I'd like to know everything before I die.

Oh, I love tomatoes. I probably garden simply because nothing beats the taste of a fresh tomato right off the vine. Last year I took the heirloom plunge only planting heirloom varieties in my garden. I like the idea of having plants with history, plants that seeds were saved from because of their taste and not because they don't crush easily during shipment. Even better, I can save their seeds and I can't do that with hybrids. With that said, I am thinking there is room for a hybrid tomato plant in my garden this year because the productivity is a lot chancier with heirlooms than with hybrids. Hybrids are bred to be disease and weather resistant and I can probably get a lot more produce than I did with the heirlooms and because I want to can and make salsa and sauce with the tomatoes this year I need a workhorse variety.

If I had 5 acres of land in which to garden I would possibly have room for all the tomatoes I would like to grow. Since I actually have four 4x4 beds and am building another 2x10 bed this spring, and other things need to grow as well I have to be choosy. Last year we employed Mel Bartholomew's Square Foot Gardening method and frankly, for tomatoes I wasn't impressed. The vines did well but they just didn't produce like they should have. I think tomatoes need more space than one square foot, 6 inches deep. Then again, I've seen widespread complaints from gardeners all over the country that 2008 was a particularly bad year for tomato production, so maybe it wasn't the spacing. I am going to commit to eight tomato plants this summer unless I am able to wrangle more space at either our local community garden (only if a spot become available) or if my neighbor and I are able to convince our neighborhood's developer to give us a place here to make a small community garden for our neighborhood (I'll update if anything comes of this).

Last year we grew seven varieties:

Green Zebras, Dad's Sunsets, Reisentraube, Siletz, Wapsipinicon Peach, Sarah Black's and Brandywine

Of these varieties I would like to replant Green Zebras, Dad's Sunsets, Wapsipinicon Peach and Brandywine again. I much prefer tangy tomatoes to sweet and the Green Zebras and Dad's Sunsets have incredible flavor so they are definitely getting a spot. The Reisentraube are little red cherry tomatoes and they were fine but I would like to try a different cherry variety this year which is why they are being passed over. The Wapsipinicon Peach didn't survive transplanting and they sound so interesting from their description that I really want to try again and see if I can't get them to produce. The Brandywine is the most popular heirloom variety and the flavor was great but the two plants I had in the garden produced miserably. I'm not sure I want to waste space on them again. The Sarah Blacks produced well but were too sweet for my tastes.

Here are the varieties that I've ordered seeds of:

Orange Flesh Purple Smudged (tangerine in color with very purple tops - Ella pick!)
Paul Robeson (a famous black tomato known for it's flavor)
Amish Paste (famous for production and canning/sauces)
Sub-Arctic Plenty (50-59 day variety that will produce early and be replaced by another plant mid-summer)
Anananas Noire or Black Pineapple (multi-colored striped, fun for the kids)
White Currant (white cherry tomato)
White Tomesol (one of the very few true white tomatoes, supposed to have a fruity flavor)
Isis Candy Cherry (early cherry tomato variety - 65 days)

So, as you can see if I replant the ones from last year and choose a hybrid and grow all the new varieties I am way over budget for space with tomatoes. Choices, choices.


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