Canary Tomatoes


 Our first homegrown tomato of the Year

Last fall, before the first frost, I dug up three healthy looking volunteer tomato seedlings. I planted them in three separate pots and put them up on a shelf next to the back wall by a fan that blows warm air from the basement into the greenhouse. I called them my canary tomatoes.*

Being practitioners of the Scrooge Philosophy, David and I do not run our furnace after we go to bed. The plants in our greenhouse, a lean-to adjoining our basement, have to rely on residual and radiant heat to survive the night. Even the sub-zero temperatures we experienced this winter did not adversely affect our canary tomatoes and, contrary to expectations, several tomatoes developed. However, the plant that was closest to the fan, which caused it to sway, started to look sickly and it was removed.

Believing the swaying of this plant help to pollenate the adjacent plants we started to shake the branches of the remaining plants to help distribute their pollen.

Because of their shape, we thought they were Oxhearts. Now that one has ripened we know they are Golden King of Siberia. Perhaps that is why these plants survived in less than ideal conditions. Naturally we are going to save the seed.


*Before mechanical sensors, canaries were used to detect gas accumulation in mines. My canary tomatoes plants were used to monitor low temperatures.