I was an avid gardener as a kid. I helped out at the local community garden every Sunday from 6th grade up to 9th. While I was there, I would help other people with their plots, as I was too young to have one of my own. My grandfather on my father’s side had the green thumb of the family, and the joke at the time was that it skipped a generation and it was passed on to me. I was that into gardening. I was always helping other people with their plots, but I eventually was able to convince my parents to let me get a plant of my very own. I wanted a plant that bore fruit but wasn’t a tree, so I went with a tomato plant, a Solanum Lycopersicum.
I watered my plant every morning and afternoon after I came home from school. I made sure that it was well trimmed at all times, removing dead branches as necessary. I even made a map of the outside of our house to find which spot had the best sunlight for it. I decided that the best place would be the side of our house, nearby the porch. Looking back on it, I didn’t need to water it in the afternoon, but I enjoyed it at the time because it was something that I looked forward to each day after school. I had a little water bottle near the front of the door that I filled up regularly. I would use it to water my plant every day.
My little brother is allergic to all furry animals, so my parents never let me have a furry pet in the house. And I couldn’t get another type of pet because my room is a bit too small to fit a tank in it. So taking care of my tomato plant was sort of my way of having a pet, something that I could take care of and that was completely mine. And it taught me quite a bit about responsibility. It was my responsibility and my responsibility only to remember to water my plant every day.
I remember very little about the time that I planted it. I do remember that I took careful care of it and checked the packet that the seeds were in to make sure I planted it during the right time and that I watered it the right way. I even made sure that repotted it when the time was right. I remember going to the store to find the right pot for my little plant, and I picked out a nice big terracotta pot that had little flowers decorating the outside. I even paid for it with my own allowance and babysitting money. I took careful care of that plant for years, and it bore fruit twice. Both times I waited until there were a few tomatoes that were ready, then I picked them. I remember eating them with balsamic vinegar, and I was so darn proud that I cried.
Author: Piper Smith
Elizabeth Blackwell included medicinal and culinary uses of the tomato plant in her illustrated book, A Curious Herbal. Click here to read more about her in our Root Stories.