Community Gardening in Montreal: The Tomato Lady of Montreal
By: Donovan King – mtltimes.ca
The Habitations Jeanne-Mance Community Garden, where I recently received a 10 x 20 foot plot, is well-equipped. With a pile of communal soil, a shed full of tools and several hoses attached to water spigots, it is a gardener’s dream.
While planning what to plant, I heard through the grapevine about a woman named Bonnie, a.k.a. “The Tomato Lady of Montreal”, who was selling 17 different types of heritage tomato seedlings.
I decided that the plants already in the ground (raspberries, squash, beans, onions snow peas and beets) could use some exotic company. I contacted The Tomato Lady and learned that she was selling tomato seedlings, for only a dollar apiece, with enticing names like Brandywine, Japanese Trifele Black, Bloody Butcher, and Earl of Edgecombe.
One plant sounded especially interesting: OSU Blue – Early. The Tomato Lady described it like this: ” YES – BLUE! Not technically an heirloom, this lovely 2” blue tomato was developed by the Oregon State University (hence ‘OSU’) to be high in anthocyanin (found in blueberries). They ripen from green to deep blue to reddish when fully ripe. Very productive and quite tasty.”
Intrigued, I ordered one of each and arranged to visit her at her home in the Plateau. When I arrived, I interviewed Bonnie about her passion for tomatoes. She explained that she had been gardening for 25 years and that she had a green thumb because her grandparents ran a farm. She said: ” I believe it is important for people to try to get an appreciation of where food comes from, and by selling cheap it is easy for people to try.” I embraced her philosophy, and for less than $20, I left with a box containing 17 lovingly-nurtured tomato seedlings of different varieties!
I planted the tomato seedlings into the sunniest part of my garden plot next to stakes in the ground. I fertilized them and put down a layer of mulch to try and prevent weeds. I have been watering them religiously ever since, and am pleased to report that they all appear to be healthy and growing. It will be very interesting to see how the tomato plants develop over the summer, with all their different shapes, sizes, patterns and colours! They will be sure to raise eyebrows!
To contact the Tomato Lady of Montreal (Bonnie), email firstname.lastname@example.org