There are three things that one can be sure to be seen when it’s Springtime here in my neck of the woods: a vase full of daffodils (they’re like a fistful of sunshine), strawberries waiting to be made into jam, and ME, at TomatoMania, agonizing over the 200+ varieties of tomatoes.
See, I’ll tell you something–I’m a cold weather person. Bright sun and the heat make me wilt like a tulip. Come February, though, a small gnawing at the edge of my appetite appears, low and slow; I barely notice it at first, but come March and the burst of sun and warmth that approaches, I know that it is my very being craving a fresh tomato. Sure, there’s those overpriced styrofoam balls at the supermarket, and if you want to call them tomatoes, but, really, you know what I’m talking about: a still warm from the sun, perfectly ripe tomato that can only come straight from a plant in the backyard.
This, of course, is why TomatoMania is just so goshdarn popular, because I know I’m not the only one who feels the same way. If you love tomatoes, or love to garden, and you’re in the L.A. area, this is definitely worth a stop, if you haven’t been before. Just walking through all those darling little baby tomato plants will just put a spring in your step.
My favorite part of the whole experience is seeing all the different varieties available, especially the ones with the fun names. Berkeley Tie-Dye Heart? Missouri Pink Love Apple? Consider me tickled.
The worst part of going? Due to space constraints, I have room for only four plants. Four! Do you know how excruciating it is for me to pick only four? In a perfect world, I’d have at least twenty, and then I would be up to my knees in tomatoes and sick of them by October, which is how it should be.
This year’s picks:
From left to right, Momotaro (it caught my eye due to it being labeled heat-resistant–an advantage here in the San Fernando Valley), Sun Gold (an orange cherry, and a favorite), Enchanted (a small/medium dark pink), and Black Cherry (the name says it all, a dark purple cherry); plus, two basil plants. Because, you know, if you’re going to have fresh tomatoes around, it’s best to have some fresh basil, too. Now, if I had the space for a cow for the fresh milk to make mozzarella, we would be In. Business.
There’s just no way in this world I could say anything bad about TomatoMania and the people who run it. They bring out a remarkable amount of seedlings to suit just about every tomato-based whim, and they love what they do. This weekend, they will be at Tapia Brothers Farm Stand in Encino, on 5251 Hayvenhurst, right next to the 101 Freeway (closest cross-street Burbank), and will be there all weekend. Don’t fret if you can’t make it this weekend, as they’ll be back in Arcadia for the L.A. Garden Show April 30-May 2nd, and for our Ventura County neighbors, they’ll be in Ojai April 23rd-25th. They also have some stops in Northern California, Maryland, and Connecticut, so stop at their website for their schedule. Happy Tomato Growing!