Posted by: livesimply2livewell | July 28, 2009

Tomatoes, seeds from Italy, and mid-summer garden bounty

Pomodor Costoluto Fiorentino

Pomodoro Costoluto Fiorentino

Tomatoes.  Vigorous, abundant, lovely tomatoes.  I have them.

A few at a time last week.  More this week.  Buckets full by the weekend.

Tomatoes raised from seed back in the winter, tended under grow-lights, nurtured in a small greenhouse contraption on the deck in the springtime.

Uses for them are many.  Not all involve throwing overripe ones at mean people. 

I will share some of these better uses as I develop my “food” section of this blog.

Pomodoro tondino Maremmano

Pomodoro tondino Maremmano

They are all, this year, heirloom Italian varieties, purchased through my favorite online seed company,   Parks and Burpees and other well established American vendors are wonderful, don’t get me wrong, but Seeds from Italy is special.

When I go to Italy, which is not nearly often enough, I favor the small Tuscan and Umbrian hill towns.  There is always a market in one of them, regardless of the day I launch my rental Fiat onto the back roads and byways .  And in the market is always a vendor of seeds.  The same varieties I can now buy online from a very nice man in Massachusetts who imports them.   

Opening a box from Seeds from Italy is like taking a gardener’s mini-vacation across the Atlantic. 

I purchased my entire year’s garden last fall.  Sugar peas and cavolo nero (Tuscan kale with spear-shaped, black-green leaves) and broccoli rabe.  Arugula, chard, carrots, beets.  Onions and leeks.  Five kinds of pole beans.  Warty yellow crookneck squash and deeply ribbed Florentine zucchini.   Cucumbers and pumpkins.  Eggplant and peppers.

And of course the tomatoes. 

An all purpose smallish salad tomato from the Maremma.  A Florentine heirloom that looks as though it were crafted of satin gathered into folds.  “Fiaschetto” a Puglian San Marzano-style.  Another San Marzano, “Scatolone,” almost as big as my fist.  And more.   My only concession to American seeds this year was a planting of Clemson Spineless okra.  

Part of the 2009 Garden

Part of the 2009 Garden

Okra aside, my garden looks and feels like Nonna’s kitchen garden, any Nonna in any hill town. 

Adding to the ambiance, the fig tree is about to put forward its second crop, the big one that will flourish from August till frost.

Basil grows, sage is abundant, and the rosemary bush has never looked better.

And there are bees.  Many, many bees. 

Happy garden.

Happy gardener.



  1. Kathy, I am very fortunate to be on the receiving end of the tomatoes that you so generously share. I used the Florentine heirloom tomatoes for lunch today, and both Randy and I loved that they have the slightest hint of lemon flavor.

    • Karine,
      It’s my pleasure to share the Florentines.

      Isn’t it fun how different tomatoes have different flavors – some are subtle, and some just hit you over the head with their uniqueness (like a Cherokee Purple or a German Johnson).

      This is why I am absolutely passionate about biodiversity. We need the heirlooms and the odd varieties, not just what’s available at the supermarket produce section or in “big box” garden centers.

      More will come!

  2. Mmmm. I picked my first ripe tomato today, and we devoured it with a local farmer’s cucumber. Nothing better! Your Italian varieties sound fantastic…buon appetito.

    • Hi, Kathleen!

      There is nothing like that first ripe tomato of the summer! What variety (varieties) are you growing?

      Buon appetito to you, too, as your tomatoes come on.

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