TOTALLY TRANSFIXED BY TOMATOES.Byline: Nancy Dillion
MARCH is the plum time for tomato lovers to start planning their backyard gardens, and few people are as excited as Scott Daigre.
The local tomato expert intends to try his luck with the unusual and peculiar Sweet Pea sweet pea, annual climbing plant (Lathyrus odoratus) of the family Leguminosae (pulse family), a legume native to S Europe but, since its introduction to horticulture c.1700, widely cultivated for its fragrant flowers. Currant currant, northern shrub of the family Saxifragaceae (saxifrage family), of the same genus (Ribes) as the gooseberry bush. The tart berries of the currant may be black, white, or red; the white gooseberry becomes purple when mature. , a sugary mini tomato about the size of a caper caper, common name for members of the Capparidaceae, a family of tropical plants found chiefly in the Old World and closely related to the family Cruciferae (mustard family). .
"It's bizarre how teeny-tiny it is," he said. "A chef challenged me to do it so he could pickle the fruit and use it like caviar. It will probably wear me out at picking time. Who knows."
Daigre, the author of "Tomatomania!: How to Grow Tomatoes in Southern California," will discuss his strategy and help local gardeners pick the right tomatoes for their micro-
climates at a free "Growing Tomatoes" class at California State University, Northridge CSUN offers a variety of programs leading to bachelor's degrees in 61 fields and master's degrees in 42 fields. The university has over 150,000 alumni. It's also home to a summer musical theater/theater program known as TADW (TeenAge Drama Workshop) that leads teenagers through an , on March 10.
He says the threat of frost should disappear in the next six weeks, and savvy growers already are sowing seeds in containers on warm window sills and protected sun porches.
His best advice: Raise the stakes and keep adding new varieties to your mix.
"Most people just want to grow that big county-fair tomato, and if that's all they choose, they waste a whole season without enjoying their labor until the end.
"So don't just go for generic nursery six-packs. Grow a little of everything -- at least one beefsteak tomato, one slicing tomato and then something kind of wacky."
His favorites include the black heirloom Pierce's Pride and a medium yellow named Lemon Boy.
For first-time growers or families with shovel-wielding kids, experts recommend sturdy cherry tomatoes.
"They're really reliable and disease-resistant," said Renee Shepherd of seed purveyor (World-Wide Web) Purveyor - A World-Wide Web server for Windows NT and Windows 95 (when available).
E-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org>. Renee's Garden in Felton, Calif. "They produce early, taste delicious and keep yielding abundant harvests in almost any climate."
Shepherd's $2.69 "Garden Candy" tricolor tricolor
describes a coat color of dogs and cats which has orange and black patches (similar to the tortoiseshell) but has in addition patches of white hair; see tortoiseshell. cherry tomato packet is a perennial favorite, she said. A mix of three types of seeds -- orange Sungold, red Supersweet 100 and bright-yellow Sweet Gold -- it's one of her three top sellers online and at stores such as Orchard Supply Hardware.
She's also selling Sungold seeds in a single variety pack for the first time this year, thanks to popular demand. "These really are like candy. It's hard to stop eating them."
"I bought my tomato plants from Home Depot last year, and they weren't very successful," said Dana McCauley, 62, a retired teacher living near Los Angeles International Airport “LAX” redirects here. For other uses, see LAX (disambiguation).
“KLAX” redirects here. For other uses, see KLAX (disambiguation).
Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX, ICAO: KLAX, FAA LID: LAX who has signed up for Daigre's CSUN CSUN California State University Northridge class. "We had some yellow pear tomatoes that were delightful to look at but really had no taste."
She hopes to ask Daigre about the best heirlooms to grow in her coastal garden.
"If you're in Pasadena, where it's warmer, you can grow most any variety. You may even have to protect your plants from the sun," Daigre said. "At the beach, containers are a good idea because you need to get your plants warmer. And short-season tomatoes are the best there. Matina and Early Girl are my favorites."
Nancy Dillon, (818) 713-3760
What: "Growing Tomatoes"
Where: California State University, Northridge
When: March 10. Session 1 runs 9 to 10:30 a.m. Session 2 runs 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Register: Sign up via e-mail at email@example.com or call (818) 677-3496
TOMATO AND BUFFALO MOZZARELLA moz·za·rel·la
A mild white Italian cheese that has a rubbery texture and is often eaten melted, as on pizza.
[Italian, diminutive of mozza, a cut, mozzarella, from mozzare, SALAD
1 pound buffalo mozzarella, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 very large tomato (such as Brandywine) OR 3 medium tomatoes, cored and sliced
1 to 2 stems fresh basil
2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Edible flowers, such as violas, nasturtiums, marigold marigold, any plant of the genus Tagetes of the family Asteraceae (aster family), mostly Central and South American herbs cultivated elsewhere as garden flowers. The two common species of marigold, both annuals, are distinguished as African, or Aztec (T. petals, borage borage (bŏr`əj, bŭr`–), common name for the Boraginaceae, a family of widely distributed herbs and some tropical shrubs or trees characterized by rough or hairy stems, four-part fruits, and usually fragrant blossoms. blossoms OR cilantro blossoms (optional)
Arrange mozzarella slices alternating and overlapping with tomatoes on an oblong platter or large dinner plate. Slip some basil leaves between slices along sides so they are protruding pro·trude
v. pro·trud·ed, pro·trud·ing, pro·trudes
To push or thrust outward.
To jut out; project. See Synonyms at bulge. halfway out.
Drizzle or spoon oil over tomatoes. Do the same with vinegar. Lightly sprinkle salt on tomatoes. Distribute flowers on slices and plate, if desired. Let sit for a few minutes and serve.
Makes 4 to 6 servings
VARIATIONS: Mayonnaise may be substituted for olive oil, producing a slightly different effect. Spread 1/2 teaspoon on top of each tomato slice as you arrange them on the plate and let sit for 10 minutes. Very thinly sliced rings of red or sweet white onion may be scattered on top of cheese and tomatoes.
From "The Tomato Festival Cookbook, 150 Recipes That Make the Most of Your Crop of Lush, Vine-Ripened, Sun-Warmed, Fat, Juicy, Read-to-Burst Heirloom Tomatoes," by Lawrence Davis-Hollander.
Can't wait for your own heirlooms?
Tarzana-based Country Fresh Herbs will begin selling its greenhouse heirlooms starting April 1.
Yellow marbled mar·bled
1. Made of or covered with marble: a marbled façade.
2. Having a mix of fat and lean: a well-marbled beef roast.
Adj. 1. Pineapple tomatoes, Cherokees Purples and huge Amana Oranges will cost about $3.50 a pound.
Call (818) 345-8810.
In the market for some hard-to-find seedlings? Tomatomania! will have almost 300 varieties up for sale this month at one of Los Angeles' oldest garden traditions.
What: Tomatomania!'s Largest Seedling Sale
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 23-25.
Where: Tapia Brothers Farm Stand, 5251 Hayvenhurst Ave., Encino.
How: For more info, call (818) 905-6155.
7 photos, 2 boxes
(1 -- cover -- color) Hot tomatoes
They come in all sizes, shapes and colors - even stripes - and now's the time to get started
(2 -- color) 'Tis the season for tomatoes, and savvy growers are already planting theirs, from seeds or seedlings. First-time growers are encouraged to start with the sturdy and tasty cherry tomato. They can be grown in almost any climate and are disease-resistant. California State University, Northridge, is offering free courses on how to grow them. Local tomato expert Scott Daigre says to "grow a little of everything" and recommends trying something a little "wacky."
(3 -- color) NEED FOR SEED: This "Summer Feast" seed packet from Renee's Garden offers a trio of treasured heirlooms. There's the medium-size, richly flavored Black Krim from the Russian Black Sea area, the meaty, glowing orange Sweet Persimmon persimmon: see ebony.
Either of two trees of the genus Diospyros in the ebony family, and their globular, edible fruits. The native American persimmon (D. and the lobed lobed
Having a lobe or lobes: lobed leaves.
Adj. 1. lobed - having deeply indented margins but with lobes not entirely separate from each other
lobate , deep-red Italian Costoluto. The packet sells for $2.69 at Reneesgarden.com or at Orchard Supply Hardware.
(4 -- color) SLICE PRECISE: This Tomato Slicer from Williams-Sonoma has serrated blades that glide through a tomato with razor precision, creating thin, uniform slices. Available for $11 at local Williams-Sonoma stores and online at williams-sonoma.com.
(5 -- color) TOMATO ART: Artist Gaila Lebherz makes these Giclee Tomato Prints in Carmel Valley, Calif., from photos taken by renowned photographer Tom O'Neal. Choose from a yellow heirloom, a green-and-red-striped heirloom (pictured), a "perfect" red tomato or a deep-crimson heart-shaped tomato. Each print is $49.95 at local Sur La Table Sur La Table, Inc. is a privately held American retail company based in Seattle, Washington, that sells gourmet cooking utensils and related merchandise, such as appliances, food, and cookbooks. stores or online at surlatable.com.
(6 -- color) TASTEFUL TOOLS: These Calle Gardening Tools from Italian design firm Con & Con snuggle together to save space and look great. The tools can be stored in a wall-mount holder that also stands up in soil like a sprout. Available for $38 in your choice of orange, green or blue at Silver Lake-based design mecca A+R, 1716 Silver Lake Blvd., L.A., or online at aplusrstore.com.
(7 -- color) BAG IT: This whimsical Red Tomato Beanbag bean·bag
1. A small bag filled with dried beans and used for throwing in games.
2. A small folded bag filled with lead pellets, used as ammunition in a stun gun.
3. is handcrafted hand·craft
Variant of handicraft.
tr.v. hand·craft·ed, hand·craft·ing, hand·crafts
To fashion or make by hand.
hand·craft in 100 percent cotton with detachable cotton velveteen vel·vet·een
A cotton pile fabric resembling velvet.
a cotton fabric that resembles velvet
Noun 1. leaves. The fresh pick from San Jose-based Eazy Bean comes in a 31-inch child size for $240 or a 42-inch adult size for $285. Buy it online at EazyBean.com.
(1) Can't wait for your own heirlooms? (see text)
(2) Get some (see text)