Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Cilantropist GROWS: Sprouting a Tomato


So I sprouted a tomato.  From another tomato.  Has anyone else had this happen or tried this?  Because I didn't try to do this, it was really an accident.  (Albeit, a serendipitous and biologically interesting one.)  Let me explain. 

Often when I buy tomatoes on the vine, either from the local farmers market or the grocery store, I keep them on the windowsill in my kitchen until I am ready to use them for a salad or otherwise.  I generally eat them pretty quickly, because I love tomatoes; however, occasionally they will bask in the sun for longer periods of time, which either makes them more ripe, or makes them start to get rotten.  Boo.  The latter has only happened a handful of times, and always seems to be when I am super busy and forget my little friends there on the sill.  I feel really sad and ashamed to know I have wasted produce and missed out a sweet tomato warm from the sun.   

Well one of these busy times, I was getting ready for work in the morning and a lone forgotten tomato seemed to wave at me and say, "Hello!  I hope you haven't forgotten about me over here!"  At first when I looked at it, I was worried it might be past its peak and destined for the garbage.  But then I was both worried and intrigued by something different: there was clearly a thing underneath the waxy skin.  Was it an insect?  An alien growth?  Whereas someone else might have thrown the whole thing away, the scientist in me could not let this go without further investigation. 

I took a small paring knife and made little incision in the skin where I could see something underneath.  It was green.  It was smooth.  It was not moving.  Much to my surprise, the alien growth looked suspiciously like the stem of a plant!  I wasn't too sure if that is what I was really seeing, so I put it back on the sill and went to work; by the time I got home, the stem had straightened up, and a little plant with two dark green leaves was sticking out of the top of the tomato!  From a biological standpoint, I suppose the seeds inside must have germinated with the warmth from the sun, and water and "food" from the tomato flesh.  I thought this was incredibly cool.  Over the next week or so, more little plants started poking through the top of the skin (with aid from one kitchen scientist and her knife).  I eventually cut the whole thing open so I could try to transplant them into soil, and the whole tomato was filled with sprouted seeds.     




I was thrilled that they took so well to the transplantation, and I eventually had to thin out the plants because they were growing too well.  I ended up leaving five plants in the pot, with the thought that a few would outgrow the others and I would keep just those; but, ALL of them started growing like crazy, sometimes an half an inch a day!  The biggest plants are almost five feet tall now, and still growing.  Now I am no gardening expert, but I am 100% positive that this is too many plants to keep in one pot... By some gardening magic they just keep growing despite these crowded conditions. 






These plants make me happy.  Sooooo happy.  I lovingly tend to them, and they feed my soul with their growth.  (And will eventually feed my tummy with their harvest.)  It has been so exciting watching my little babies sprout up, bloom with yellow sunshine, and grow tiny little green tomatoes.  



I am always giving my boyfriend updates on my tomatoes, and hopefully I can keep you in the loop too.  I have some other plants and herbs, so look for more gardening posts here soon.  And come mid-summer, it will be harvest time!!!  I can't wait to make lots of delicious dishes with these home-grown beauties.  


Do you have a favorite recipe you like to make with ripe summer tomatoes?  Share it with me!  I will probably have hundreds of tomatoes from these prolific plants, and I am excited to try out new things and re-create old favorites.  

45 comments:

  1. Now that is really cool! You're making me want to stick a tomato up on my sill and see if I can get it to germinate. My contribution would be gazpacho. Lots of tomatoes and super yummy! Hope you had a great weekend!

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  2. great post -- tomato seeds only sprout after their gelatinous coating is broken down by mold -- but I've never seen it happen inside the fruit itself! Can't wait to see what you do with them...Theresa

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  3. Julie: Gazpacho was already on my list, great minds think alike. ;)

    Theresa: Thanks for the factoid on the sprouting! That just makes this situation all the more interesting, because there was definitely no mold inside these tomatoes. Biology is strange and awesome.

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  4. Tomatoes have been my favorite food since I was a kid and we grow them every year. I love to eat and pick at the same time. However, I have never had this happen! It's actually really cool.

    As for my favorite tomato recipes, when I'm not eating like like apples or grapes, I like to make caprese salads (basil, tomato, garlic, olive oil, mozzarella); tomato sauce and soup (even cold!) and put them on pizzas. I mostly eat them in salad though. I recently saw a post on Foodbuzz about a tomato tart, but I'm not sure who it belonged to.

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  5. This is truly amazing. I've been staying away from growing tomatoes in my little patio but your experience is really an inspiration. I think the best way to enjoy tomatoes is to have a gorgeous sandwich with just tomatoes, basil, mozarella and mayo. :)

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  6. If they are good tomatoes, all you need is a litle bit of salt, maybe some basil and cheese and a drizzle of olive oil!

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  7. Gosh... a little freaky I must say.

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  8. That is so cool! I have never heard of anything like that. Fascinating! So neat to see the progression too, in your photos. great job!

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  9. This is awesome! I never thought it would work (I DO always throw them away when it happens to me!)... I would suggest a light homemade tomato sauce for pasta - sometimes less is more :). Excited to hear how your tomatoes grow :)!

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  10. Wow, how neat! Thanks for sharing this experience!

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  11. What a great story and a surprise! I've never seen anything like it...it looks so interesting the tomato sprouting from within. I really like how you captured it's growth. Gardening. It's peaceful and good for the soul.

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  12. Interesting and kind of gross (the picture, that is. It totally looks like an alien.) :) Tomato, basil, mozz, and mayo sandwich sounds divine!

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  13. I LOVE this! I'm such a kid when it comes to seeing my plants grow... I'd be just giddy over that tomato. Good work!

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  14. I can't even grow regular plants (like the ones that start out in pots) but you can grow fruit from other fruit. You have magic :)

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  15. haha wow that's awesome!! I can't wait til we have a yard to or even a balcony to grow my own foods!

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  16. That is an amazing story. One thing I love to make with great tasting tomatoes is homemade tomato paste. Since you are going to have SOO MUCH, you should make some and store it for later use. :)

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  17. Adorable! I have my first ever tomato bud. It's just a tiny little guy! I'm hoping I'm as successful as you!!

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  18. I've never had this happen--funny! I love to make tomato panzanella in the summertime when the tomatoes are just right!

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  19. It's already been said, but - COOOOOOL!!! You have what I would consider a Magical Tomato. Can't wait to read what you do with your summer bounty!

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  20. I like to eat tomatoes simply, with a little high quality olive oil, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper. I'm a little envious. My tomatoes plants are large but not very much fruit.

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  21. This is sooo cool! If I owned that tomato, it would have gone in the garbage but not you. :-) Now look at the bounty you'll enjoy.

    I'm growing tomatoes this year, too. The first time I did this two years ago, I was so happy. I completely understand you--those plants were like my babies, too.

    I usually make a quick pasta sauce with mine: tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, olives, capers, etc. Depends on what I have at home.

    This is one of the neatest posts I've read in a while. :-) Cheers!

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  22. This never happened to me! probably because if I see something strange on a tomato, I throw it away! amazing, you must be a great gardener, or chemist :o) - Love this story, it has a very happy ending!

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  23. I've never heard of this before. It will be interesting to see if the plants actually bare fruit. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  24. Can't say I've ever had a tomato sprout on me like that, though I did grow a beautiful avocado plant from a pit that had already started sprouting inside an avocado I bought. :)
    Your tomato plants look beautiful! I've got a feeling you're about to end up with more tomatoes than you know what to do with.
    (We usually eat ours in salads with fresh basil from the garden, in BLT sandwiches, or chop them up and toss them with hot pasta as a salsa cruda... though this year, I'm hoping to have enough to make a jar or two of tomato jam)

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  25. What a story...Never had that one happen to me, but look at the riches:) They look very happy and healthy!

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  26. Nice plants! Try goat cheese stuffed tomatoes.

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  27. I have never seen that before - very interesting - thank you for sharing! I adore the simple caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes is my favorite.

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  28. interseting post! never seen sucha thing before :)

    jen

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  29. Like many others here, this is something I have never seen before...you are creative! Thumbs up for you!

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  30. Wow....I'm amazed, from that tomato you got this beautiful tree? That's a tomato that really wanted to grow. Great post.

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  31. wow, i have never heard of that. it was meant to be! that's awesome you'be been able to document the process with photos and share them. i can't wait to see all the dishes you make with the tomatoes!

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  32. I love this! Fantastic :) Your blog is great!

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  33. Wow, I didn't know that could happen...it is like a sci fi movie.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I cannot wait to read more of yours!

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  34. Oh my gosh! This is so cool! In the past I've saved seeds, and there is a process that calls for fermenting them for four days to make them more disease resistant, but this is totally a much more fascinating method. Beautiful blog by the way!

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  35. Great story. I've also had some seeds sprout but it's usually happened at the end of the season when I've stripped my tomato plants - green to red and brought them indoors to ripen. I live in Colorado and the early freezes in the fall destroy most of our garden bounty.

    One of my favorite ways to eat tomato is with zucchini in Mexican calabacitas. It was the first recipe on my blog and is one of my favs.

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  36. This is a first for me....very cool!

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  37. whoa! i thought this only happens with beans and potatoes. lol.

    one of my bestfriends started a vegetable garden, and it is crazy right now, she has zucchinis, tomatoes, herbs, corn (for chrissssssssakes!), squash, and a lot more, i couldn't believe she started one in her medium sized backyard. but yeah i would love to hear more about your tomatoes and how they're doing!!!

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  38. wow, I really couldn't believe it when I first read it. Me too, I have never heard of something like this.

    Is just amazing.

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  39. That's called vivipary - when seeds germinate precociously. You probably got a mutant tomato :)

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  40. OMG! That is to awesome! I never imagined something like that could happen. I have got to try this. It will be a great science project for my 3 young grand daughters, to watch and learn, one of which has a mentality for being a scientist. I hope it works, I don't want to disappoint them. If it doesn't work, we will continue to watch your progress. Thanks so much for sharing :0)

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  41. I did have this happen to a rotten tomato in the compost pile, once . . . unfortunately, the ants (or other bug) got to it before I could plant it. Congratulations on having it happen at the right time and place so you could support the new plants. Yes, life and creation are So Wonderful!

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  42. This happened on my grandmother's kitchen room table. The tomato sat on the table, in the sun, for about two weeks, and it looked perfectly fine, except all around the top were sprouts. She's 94 and had never seen anything like it, either.

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  43. I hope you get this comment, I have one of those freaky tomatoes also. It is the wildest thing. Could you please add how you planted it? Did you just put the whole, opened up tomato in the soil in a pot, or did you just put the sprouts in the soil? Did you cover it up with the soil or leave the sprouts exposed?

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