I receive emails from modern farmer with blog posts on a daily basis. I find they offer some excellent advice, insight and sometimes just interesting reading. Today the lead blog was How to Grow Your Own Tomatoes, Part 1: Starting Seeds Indoors. Actually, the article is from last year, but you know we need to grow tomatoes again this year!
As I read the title, I thought back to my childhood and how we did not start tomatoes from seeds, but planted tomato slips. I searched the Internet for the term tomato slip and did not find a direct reference, but a tomato slip is just a tomato seedling. I have no idea where the term “slip” originated, but in Dark Corner any plant not started from seed was a slip which was purchased from the local feed & seed store. Potatoes, tomatoes, onions, etc. were all planted as slips.
As Grandma Lillie used to say, don’t plant the garden ‘til the ground warms up! Usually, this was around May when all threat of a frost had dissipated. It was such a big adventure to go to Price’s Feed & Seed store to buy seed and pick out tomato slips. Of course, looking at the baby chicks and ducks was my favorite part of the trip! Grandma Lillie was a particular sort and she would go through trays of plants to find the hardiest tomato plants. She preferred the Heirloom, Better Boys, Tommy Toes and Bonny Best tomatoes. As I noted in an earlier post, the gardens fed the family throughout the year, so she planted slicing tomatoes as well as canning tomatoes.
Once we got the tomatoes home it was time to plant them. Again, Grandma Lillie had a very specific way of planting tomatoes. The grandchildren all had assigned jobs. One of us would make the tomato mound, one would hollow out the mound so there was a hole in the middle, another would put a precise amount of water in the hole and the last person would put the tomato slip in the mounded hole and cover it up. It was all a very scientific process!
Then we waited. It seemed an eternity of watering, weeding and debugging the plants before we could enjoy the tomatoes. In retrospect, I think that the tomatoes tasted so good because we had to wait so long to eat them. Although I have to say much of joy came from planting something and watching the plants grow. At that time growing tomatoes seemed to be a magical process…..wait, wait, wait and then one day big, red tasty tomatoes. I don’t know if that red dirt was magic, but it sure produced some tasty tomatoes and fond memories. I guess it is true that simple pleasures are the best!