Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

The humble tomato

I can’t let the week slip by without blogging about tomatoes, a last hurrah before autumn hits here in Sydney – and what a hurrah.


These tiny bursts of flavour were unlike anything I’ve ever bought in a supermarket

Here’s what I picked at the community garden last week, a bowl of mostly cherry tomatoes, brim full of heirloom varieties that bear no resemblance to the tasteless bullets you buy in the supermarket. They were planted a few short months ago and protected by netting to stop birds and fruit fly decimating the crop.

Maybe that’s where I went wrong?

Next year, any tomatoes I plant will be netted.


Dismantling the frames that protected tomatoes during the growing season

At the working bee in the community garden this week we pulled up stakes, snipped off ties, unpicked cloth and packed away the frames in the shed, ready for next year.

The following day I caught the bus into town, heading for the Sydney Tomato Festival in the Botanic Gardens. The low key publicity for such a quirky festival had caught my eye.


Helpers Hetty and Ros stood ready to slice and dice more heirloom varieties

There were only a handful of stalls, barely enough to be called a festival in truth, but the setting was absurdly picturesque, with views past the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates to the sparkling waters of Sydney Harbour.

It turned out I wasn’t alone in finding the prospect of a tomato festival fascinating. Hordes of people were there, most of them queuing for up to half an hour to taste gourmet varieties of tomato, served up by smiling ladies from the Foundation and Friends of the Botanic Gardens. Here’s their website.

Marilyn offered visitors a taste of Ananas Noir

Marilyn offered visitors a taste of Ananas Noir

The queue defeated me so I wandered across to The Diggers Club stall. The Diggers Club pioneered the rescue of heirloom vegetables through the distribution of seeds, check out their website if you don’t already know them, it’s a wonderful organisation.

From there I found a produce stall, picked out two large tomatoes – one Golden Jubilee, one Black Krim – and tucked then into the bottom of my bag so they wouldn’t spoil on the journey home.

Black Krim and Golden Jubilee

I took home Black Krim and Golden Jubilee

The tomatoes slowly ripened in the fruit bowl over the next three days, and I sliced one for salad last night.

The taste of that humble fruit, grown on a farm somewhere in New South Wales, reminded me that life isn’t always about the big events and the crowning achievements; and it’s not about the success we so often strive for and the failure we all have to face one time or another.

Sometimes life is about taking the time to appreciate the simple things, like slicing a ripe tomato, preparing a meal, and savouring it.









12 comments on “The humble tomato

  1. helen meikle's scribblefest
    February 19, 2015

    Proper tomatoes are one of nature’s prime gifts! Together with ripe peaches plucked from the tree minutes before eating.
    We lost a bumper crop of tomatoes to fruit fly in Sydney, within the space of a day. Devastating!


  2. debhuntinbrokenhill
    February 19, 2015

    I feel for you Helen, it’s so dispiriting. I tried an organic trap but that didn’t work so now I’m trying to grow blueberries and figs, they don’t seem to attract fruit fly


  3. candidkay
    February 19, 2015

    I cannot wait until summer here and a fresh heirloom tomato salad. Nothing like it!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      February 19, 2015

      The world turns and our autumn becomes your spring, with all the promise that heralds. There’s no point me feeling envious, we couldn’t have summer without winter, and vice versa. Enjoy!


  4. nantubre
    February 19, 2015

    Amen! “Sometimes life is about…” the world would be a better place if we all shared the same sentiment. Deb, I will begin my garden in a few weeks time. I’m going to give straw bale gardening a try.


  5. bkpyett
    February 19, 2015

    Lovely post Deb. We’re eating tomatoes every day. Many of our plants are just self sown ones, but a few are from Diggers. I’ve never had so many, shall have to start making relish and chutney. Such a pleasure as the tomatoes taste superb!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      February 19, 2015

      Thanks Barbara and lucky you to be able to enjoy all those tomatoes, I used to grow so many I would dry them when we lived in Broken Hill. Ah well… 🙂


  6. monsoonwendy
    February 19, 2015

    I was a Diggers’ girl a long time ago. Read the catalogues longingly more often than produced much but we got some meals from the veggies. This was a mouth watering post Deb!


  7. Eliza Waters
    February 20, 2015

    My mouth is watering after reading this post, Deb! Nothing like a homegrown tomato. Did you save the Black Krim and Golden Jubilee seeds for next year? We’re on the other end of course, getting ready to sow our seeds for summer. It is wonderful to visit your summer heat and harvest, while the winter winds howl outside my door. Neg. 28C windchill right now – ugh. Thanks for the respite!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      February 22, 2015

      Oh what a brilliant idea to have saved some seeds and yet again I’ve read your helpful, insightful, useful comment TOO LATE! Ah well, I enjoyed the tomatoes. Hope winter scurries off soon in your neck of the woods.

      Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on February 19, 2015 by and tagged , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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