You know the smell of tomato plants? Not the fruit… Just the plant. It is so ingrained in my brain as a happy memory that I can’t even begin to describe it in anything relatable to anyone but myself.
You see, my mom doesn’t have a green thumb. I wouldn’t call it black… Just not green. But we ALWAYS had a tomato plant (or four). Pretty much every summer of my life, I can remember tomatoes on our deck. And while you can’t beat the taste of that fresh home-grown tomato, that isn’t where my happy memories lie.
For me, the smell takes me back to car rides into the country to a local greenhouse. The Beatles are probably playing through the speakers. My mom’s favorite. I probably made her rewind the tape to Yellow Submarine or Penny Lane (my favorites) 8 times.
Once we got to the greenhouse, there was usually a resident cat or dog to cuddle before we made our way into the hot, humid greenhouses. I would be admiring every flower as my mom picked out what bedding plants she was going to grow that year. ALWAYS some Pansies… Both of our favorites.
And then the tomatoes. I don’t remember any special variety. We probably based our decision on the name. Honestly, I was probably back petting the resident animals, or talking to a cat. Mostly I remember the way the car would smell really earthy on the drive home. The feeling of taking our precious cargo back to its new house. And the prospect of playing in the dirt when we got home. I would dig the hole, my mom would carefully put the plant in, and then I got to help cover it back up.
Most of my memories involving tomatoes, are all jumbled together. But every year, that first tomato plant smell takes me back to those happy times in spring with my mom and some dirt. Think Disney movie flashback only less animated and more dirt.
Go smell some tomato plants and make your own earthy memories.