You say tomato, I say tomahto

If you’re a gardener, you may start your own seedlings or buy them from a nursery or mooch them from a friend who starts plants. In any case, you’ve probably been–or are about to be–planting tomatoes. I put in (horrors) 42 plants last week–so many varieties I love, some heirloom, some commercial standbys.

Okay, I have tomatoes on my mind. This article showed up in the New York Times today, just when I thought nothing about tomatoes could surprise me. How about this: plant geneticists have sequenced the tomato’s genome and discovered 31,760 genes, about 7,000 more than a person.

Coincidentally (or, again, maybe all things tomato are jumping out at me at this time of year), I also stumbled on this wonderful story from Robert Krulwich which describes an experiment proving that the dodder plant can “smell” a tomato plant. Check it out–complete with video and drawings. I grew up in Manhattan so it wasn’t until my early twenties that I first smelled the distinctive odor of a tomato vine–thanks to an old Italian man who grew tomatoes and figs in his backyard in New Jersey. An unforgettable aroma.

Tomatoes on your mind? Share a favorite recipe–something you like to do with those first ripe tomatoes out of the garden. (I make many a meal out of tomatoes drizzled with a bit of olive olive, basil, salt and pepper and several ears of fresh corn. Who needs anything more?)

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