Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Papas & Mamas and heirloom tomatos

That little cold snap—if it can rightly be called that—last week brought a chill to
the bones and stirred up Anniepie’s sinuses but did not seem to hurt the tomato
or zucchini seedlings. The spit of rain that came with the cold didn’t ease the
drought. We appreciate that 0.10 inch all the same, though, Lord. Always good,
from time to time, to see what we are missing. Some say this stretch of the
Rolling Plains has not been this dry since 1967.

I am reminded what a hassle growing tomatoes from seed can be, and this may
well be my last spring to mess with them. As long as Mama Cass keeps raising a
bushel of heirloom tomato varieties on her farm near Seymour, Texas, I never
need go to seed again!

She wasn’t born Mama Cass, but I wouldn’t want to be the poor soul to remind
her of that. Found her last week when I saw her ad offering heirloom tomato
plants for sale on Craig’s List. A couple of emails later we had a date for her to
bring several plants by the house Saturday. Meanwhile, I did some searching on
Facebook and discovered her groovy tribute vocal group, The Papas & Mamas.
That’s right, she is the Mama Cass of The Papas & Mamas, recently returned
from WOWing crowds in Vegas with their righteously right on California dreamy

But don’t take my word for it. Check ‘em out for your own self on YouTube.

Cass is one of those beautiful people with whom you feel an immediate
connection on first meeting. In fact, she and Anniepie killed a good ten minutes
or better trying to run down where and when they knew one another, only to
come up empty. A self-described aging hippie, she is raising chemical-free,
sustainable veggies on some 1200 acres which she further describes as “an adult
amusement park.” The Papas & Mamas, which she organized and gave birth to,
is “my day job.”

Admittedly, all I know about heirloom tomatoes is what I’ve read in magazines
like Mother Earth News. What I can share is the claim that heirloom tomatoes
and store-bought tomatoes do not inhabit the same cosmos. Heirloom tomatoes
are grown for eating. Store-bought tomatoes are grown for selling.

As the name suggests, heirloom tomatoes have their origins in those long gone
days before large-scale commercial farming and long-distance shipping. These
tomatoes were grown on small farms and in kitchen gardens by hand for one
thing above all others—flavor--the ONE thing above all others that is missing
from today’s commercially produced market tomatoes.

It’s a good week when two neat blasts from the past come calling!

I used an old pet rat cage (no longer inhabited) to hold the young plants so they can be moved inside until they have been hardened off. If you would like more information about Cass and/or her heirloom plants, leave a message with your email address here or message me on Facebook.
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