Perfect with onions.
June 10, 2010

The biggest difficulty that Donald and I face is that we have no idea how to get started.  We decided to first create a vegetable garden, but having spent most of our lives up to this point buying vegetables in frozen bags, we are admittedly at a bit of a loss.  If we want to venture beyond the supermarket garden blend, what do we pick?

Neither of us has ever gardened before in any capacity and in fact, when I went to a local farmer’s market last week I realized that not only am I about as vegetable-challenged as they come, but I can barely communicate with the people who know more than I do.

“¿Qué es la diferencia entre estes tomates?” I asked the woman behind the table.  What is the difference between these tomatoes?

“La única cosa que tenga que saber es que los dos son buenos.  Perfectos con cebollas.”  The only thing you need to know is that they’re both good, she said.  Perfect with onions.

I pressed on.  Was there really no difference?  I thought some tomatoes were for cooking and others were for drying and yet others were for saucing.  Which of her tomatoes were for which purpose?  When were they planted?  What type were they?

“¿El tipo?” she said, with one eyebrow raised.  What type?  “Pués, el tipo que vaya perfectamente con cebollas.”  The type that is perfect with onions.

Fair enough.

Last week, I ordered a couple seed catalogs from a variety of non-profit organizations that specialize in less common, often endangered, edibles.  Mostly grains and vegetables, with a few fruits and herbs thrown in.  Seeds seem like a pretty good way to launch a vegetable garden.

The first catalog arrived yesterday.  Ecstatic, I rushed inside from the mailbox and opened it up.  There were no fewer than six pages devoted to tomato plants.  SIX PAGES.

“What do you think?” I asked Charlotte, “Which ones are perfect with onions?”  She looked at me blankly.  I sighed.  We have a long way to go before I know.

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  1. By christy on June 10, 2010

    I don’t really eat tomatoes so this post made me laugh so hard.  You guys will be fine.  Plant a little of this and a little of that and in time, after a few years, you’ll have your favorite varieties of tomatoes, corn, beans, peas, you name it!!

  2. By christy on June 10, 2010

    PS Unrelated, but I’ve been reading your archives from last year this whole spring!  I’m due July 13th so your pregnancy posts match up to where I am almost perfectly one year apart!

  3. By on June 10, 2010

    I’m pretty un-savvy when it comes to vegetables too. But out of curiosity, where did you order your seed catalogs from?

  4. By Elly on June 10, 2010

    Oh! I love that your farmers market is bilingual (ish?). And I had no idea that there was that many type of tomato! Let us know if the type you get goes good with onions . . .

  5. By Sarah Christensen on June 10, 2010

    Elly - Sometimes I think everything here is bilingual.  Only it’s not just Spanish.  There are places that seem to only speak Chinese or Vietnamese or Korean, places that only speak Tagalog (sp?), places that only speak Arabic, and, sadly, I don’t really speak any of those…

  6. By on June 11, 2010

    I work in a garden center. When I first startedthere I paid no attention to the differences. Then I began to ask questions and really came to the conclusion your Hispanic friend did. ‘they all taste great’. When people who don’t know anything about tomatos come in I tell them to realize when starting that they have a few that have BIG differences. Roma, Cherry, Grape and then your ‘normal’ tomatos for the most part.

    Others who are more into gardening have already figured out their favorites and for everyone that favorite is different. So like someone else said, get a few different ones. You’ll know soon enough which your family prefers.

  7. By Kristin Messegee on June 11, 2010

    My husband and I took the throw-a-bunch-of-stuff-in-the-ground-see-what-happens-and-learn-about-it-later approach.  We are currently in the learn about it phase as things did not go so terribly well. We have harvested precisely one cayenne pepper which does not a family feed.  Though the potatoes, onions, garlic and herbs are all doing swimmingly.  Those don’t seem to take much effort at all.  The tomatoes have been a serious pain in the A.  We have learned they need and love a lot more fertilizer than other things, so that has helped.

  8. By on June 11, 2010

    I’ve gotten the impression that the smaller the seed, the harder it is to grew. Hence easy potatoes, garlic, etc. What I’ve learned so far is to start with the things you’ll really use and then build it up over time. My lettuce, watermelons, and pumpkins are falling to the way-side because I’m trying to give more attention while learning to the things I really carr about like beans, tomatos, etc.

  9. By Sweet Huckleberry on June 11, 2010

    Two books that will be invaluable to your gardening/farming adventure:

    Dick Raymond’s “Joy of Gardening”


    “The new seed starter’s handbook” by Nancy Bubel

    There are a million more on my book shelves, but these have been my bibles. 

    Enjoy, good luck, and feel free to drop a line at or via if you need advice on anything.





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