Before we get to the tomatoes, I’d like to assure you that although I haven’t posted a recipe here in months, I have been eating as well as ever. This is what I mean by living with a cook better that oneself: wild turkey twice in one month, the breasts stuffed on one occasion with Serrano ham and membrillo, on the other with Serrano ham and dried figs stuffed with roasted almonds; frog’s legs coated in panko, fried, and served with fresh horseradish (from the garden) sauce; seared sea scallops in a butter sauce topped with shavings of truffle chocolate; pitch-perfect cucumber, tomato, cilantro salad; Greek sausage and lobster frittata; fiddlehead and ramp soup; venison (from our woods)…you get the idea. Don’t worry, I will start documenting these meals and sharing them with you.
Now on to the tomatoes. The expression “as above, so below” applies to, well, almost everything, but to tomatoes also and that’s what we’re talking about. For a tomato plant to be healthy and happy above ground it needs to be healthy and happy below ground. That means it needs a robust root system and the teeny, tiny ball of roots that come out of a start pack just isn’t enough.
So what to do? The solution is to plant the tomato start so that it is parallel to the ground, burying the lower portion of the plant. The portion of stalk below ground will root, giving the tomato plant the support it needs to grow and produce to its full potential. Then it can spend its energy on making delicious tomatoes for your salad bowl or sauce pot not on struggling to survive. We’re so used to plants growing perpendicular to the ground that it seems strange, even wrong, to plant one lying down. It really is for the best, though, and within a few hours or a day the tomato plant will point itself up toward the sky, appreciative of the extra care you gave it.