grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lycopersicon lycopersicum: My Gateway Plant

I think it was Monica I first heard refer to the tomato as a "gateway plant."  "Gateway" is normally used to describe a drug, like alcohol or marijuana, which causes the user to be at an increased risk to abuse other, stronger substances.  But there are a lot of us gardening geeks who bought and grew one particular plant so successfully that it led us into a fanatical gardening hobby.  We peruse gardening magazines, other people's gardens and we shop at garden centers on this adrenalin high that we don't really talk about. But we gardeners all understand it.  We have vastly different gardens both in scale and plant selection, but we all share in this plant addiction.   And the tomato is at the center of this addiction for a lot of folks, including me.

There's a reason the tomato is so many people's gateway plant.  The superior flavor of the homegrown tomato to a store bought one is widely known, even by folks who've never gardened.  The tomato is a versatile food, so people buy, cook and eat lots of them.  Plus, tomato plants are easy to get and easy to grow no matter where you live.  They're relatively disease resistant.  It's no wonder that new gardeners plant tomatoes then go on to expand their vegetable garden year after year, planting fancier and fancier stuff.  The next thing you know you're growing asparagus and artichokes!  Starting garden blogs!  All manner of things!

That's what happened to me.  My gardening hobby started with the desire to grow a few tomatoes.  But once I saw that first little yellow tomato blossom, I was hooked.  Growing those first tomatoes catapulted me into hardcore vegetable and flower gardening. I've basically landscaped our entire front and backyard, thanks to the tomato.  As far as I'm concerned, there's no better food.  And there's no better plant.

What was your gateway plant?


  1. Hi Gina, Yep, that was me, and it was a single tomato (not even an heirloom, and not even one started from seed--that all came later) some many {mumble} years ago that started it all off for me. I was planning to do a post on it but never got around to it. Glad you did, and that we share a gateway plant, lol. :)

  2. Hi Gina. My gateway vegetable was cucumber. I started a lasagna-type garden two years ago as a foray into gardening. Despite my ineptitue, the cucumber plants grew like crazy, and we ate them all summer. They always have a special place in my hear for that reason.

  3. I gardened with my parents so there were always plants but when we moved to a little duplex once with no place to garden in the ground, it was a tomato that I still had in a container. Small crop but so good!

  4. The tomato was definitely my gateway plant. First I just had a couple plants in a few pots on the patio. The next year it escalated to (2) 4x8 raised beds. This year there's that plus a patch, and a patio garden of herbs and whatnot. Before that it was only pretty flowers for this girl. Tomato's offered a whole other layer of gardening to my addiction!

  5. I'm a total tomato snob and won't eat them out of season. A tomato in January can only disappoint...My gateway plant was daffodil bulbs when I rented a house in college. I gardened in a used shipping container. Ah, the good old days.

  6. Excellent thoughts, Gina!

    Tomatoes and radishes were the gateway plants for my husband- think mine were peas because I loved them raw from the pod.
    Austin is a ridiculous, expensive, labor-intensive place to grow tomatoes but I love them and do it year after year.
    But I wouldn't touch them as a kid - creeped out by hornworms.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    BTW I love to see your Twit-pics so please keep snapping!

  7. Cucumbers and daylilies were my gateway veggies and flowers. And since then, like you, I've landscaped our entire (tiny) backyard to the point that I am practically out of room and we now have two 4x4 garden beds and a 2x4 strawberry patch. Is it bad that I am trying to figure out a way to fit in one more 4x4? Oy!