The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Striped tomatoes a lesson on labels
SOMETIMES IT pays to check the label.
My friend Arley Estes told me recently about an unusual tomato experience last year.
Arley said that he had set out three plants in a flower bed and watched the vines grow until finally small green tomatoes appeared.
He was thrilled until the first fruit started to ripen and he noticed weird-looking stripes appearing on the tomato.
Arley figured this was just a freak, but he became really concerned when the different color strips began appearing on the next two tomatoes.
Then he said he remembered that he had put down vegetation killer in this spot the autumn before to get rid of the weeds.
Did he read the label? Was that stuff something that stayed in the ground? Did the tomato plants suck up some of the poison that resulted in mutated fruit?
Being a careful guy, Arley didn’t dare eat one of those tomatoes. But being a curious sort, he left the plants there all summer just to see what strange tomatoes might appear.
You guessed it; every piece of fruit contained those same unhealthy-looking stripes. So all summer Arley pulled off the mutant tomatoes and threw them away.
“Then, this spring when I went to buy my tomato plants, I happened to look at a picture beside the little plastic containers,” he said. “There were the striped tomatoes I grew last summer.
“They were supposed to have stripes. That was the tomato variety I had planted. I realized I had been throwing away all those good tomatoes last year for no reason.”
Being careful is always prudent, but sometimes you really should check the label, too.
Of course, Arley just laughed off the incident, telling us all that the mistake probably resulted from a stubborn streak he had inherited from his ancestors.
“I had two uncles that were the most hardheaded men around,” Arley said.
“One spring, they decided to put out a field of corn together, but when they got the land ready they couldn’t decide which direction the rows should go.
“One said they should go east to west and the other said they should go north to south. They argued over this for several days until finally one uncle got tired of the bickering and went out there one morning and planted the corn east to west.
“When the other uncle found out what had happened, he got so mad that he hooked up the team and planted the entire field north to south. When that corn came up, they said it was so thick it looked like a broom sedge field.”
“We Esteses are a hardheaded bunch!”