Chocolate Poetry

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Chocolate Cherry Tomato
"I think that I shall never see
A cherry tomato lovelier than thee.

A Chocolate Cherry that I planted here;
Alms from a grower with vision clear.

A cherry tomato that produces a gift;
Providing every tomato lover with a lift.

A taste so sweet, so undeniably tart;
It can only be classified as work of art.

It’s that special tomato in my garden;
A taste I will miss, when the season is done."

Modesto's 7th Poet Laureate
Somewhere, Stella Beratlis, the City of Modesto's 7th Poet Laureate, is doing a face palm. (Alfred) Joyce Kilmer, meanwhile, a hero of World War I who penned the poem "Trees" that I ripped off with no shame whatsoever, is probably spinning in his grave.

Why pick on Stella? Because she is an avid vegetable gardener, and published author I might add, who has also professed a love for cherry tomatoes. That, and we went to high school together (go Patriots!). As for Kilmer, I needed something even my simple brain could comprehend.

Chocolate Cherry Tomato Plant-Citrus Heights
My friends and tomato growing maniacs, I come to you with a message today: If there is room for only one cherry tomato in your garden next summer, I highly recommend the Chocolate Cherry. A close cousin to the treasured Black Cherry tomato, there are also subtle differences that set it apart. Both are black or deep purple in color. Both are cherry varieties. But the comparison ends there.

My Chocolate Cherry tomato, which now stands at a height of roughly ten feet in front of this temporary rental home, resulted from a $1 investment into a starter plant grown by a Citrus Heights tomato maniac by the name of Melanie Steffens. Melanie had extra plants from her seed starting effort. I had room for one extra plant and a spare buck.

Call it a marriage made in heaven.

Forest of Cherry Tomato Production
Of the six tomato plants that comprise the Bird tomato growing efforts this year, three have been Grand Slams in terms of tomato production. Yet another has been a steady, get on base producer and the other two, much like this year's San Francisco Giants team, struck out at ever opportunity.

I bet you didn't know growing tomatoes and baseball had so much in common. But I'm getting way off topic here, plus I get depressed whenever I think about the Giants. So, back to tomatoes I go.

Memorial Stadium: Berkeley, CA
I like cherry tomatoes because they represent a portable snack. You can pick them and take them everywhere. I saw a young lady produce a bag of cherry tomatoes at a Cal football game in Memorial Stadium several years ago and thought it to be a rather brilliant idea.

I had been focused on somehow smuggling a flask of whiskey into that stadium -- so much so I didn't think about the three cherry tomato plants at home -- teeming with production I might add. While I'd sentenced myself to some overpriced, deep-fried snack from a stadium vendor, this rather brilliant young lady managed to produce something far more healthy and far more satisfying. And, I'll tell you this much, she didn't have to sneak it in either.

A Transportable and Healthy Snack!
Taking a cue from this lady, I load up a plastic sandwich bag with Chocolate Cherry tomatoes before heading into work every morning. It is at a size now where's it's producing 10-20 ripe tomatoes nearly every single day. The numbers diminish somewhat late in the week, but by the time Monday morning rolls around again, there's my Chocolate Cherry, teeming with this week's breakfast and lunch snack.

Pros and cons: The Chocolate Cherry appears to be more disease resistant than the Black Cherry. Either that, or I'm just the recipient of dumb luck. But I can't begin to tell you how many times disease has either interrupted or curtailed Black Cherry production in my garden. That hasn't been a problem this year with the Chocolate Cherry, and it's resisted a leaf spot problem that struck the Thessaloniki tomato planted just a few feet away.

The Chocolate Cherry
Unlike many cherry tomato varieties, Chocolate Cherry fruit does not split. They're portable over long distances. The skins are much tougher. Indeed, there's almost a slight crunch when one bites into an under-ripened Chocolate Cherry. You can dump a bunch of them into a sandwich bag and won't experience the problem of split, mushy cherry tomatoes when you arrive at your intended destination.

Finally, in terms of taste? I'll be honest. The Chocolate Cherry does not offer the zesty taste explosion that is the Black Cherry. It's a bit more mild. This isn't to tell you that Chocolate Cherry doesn't taste good. It does. This variety will find a home in next year's garden, that much I can tell you. But I'm not going to tell you it's the best cherry variety I've tried.

It will, however, rank among the best I've ever grown. It will join that pantheon list that includes West Sac Crack, Pink Ping Pong, Black Cherry, Sungella and countless others that have graced previous gardens in previous lifetimes.

After all, a cherry tomato that drives a man to write really bad poetry can't be all that bad, can it?

1 comment:

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