Home Grown Tomato Hints; Unique Sea Salts of the World

Summer has officially arrived to Austin, Texas. I just plucked the first fully-ripened tomatoes from our garden out to the ranch! Four heirloom purple jobbies, a bucket of grape size and another bucket of Sweet 100 cherries.


I love tomatoes, homegrown tomatoes, in a way I have difficulty explaining. Homegrown tomatoes are a different species from nearly all commercial choices and my homegrown jobs are unusually good even compared to other home growners.

“Why is that, Mooner,” you might inquire.

Well, I will tell you. The why answer that is the root cause for me growing great tomatoes is my unnatural love and desires for the best that tomatoes can be. Since I love good tomatoes so much, I have endeavored to grow the finest.

The how answer to the why question is simple. We grow all possible varieties in copious quantities; we use organic methods only; I make special compost and compost teas designed for tomato plant needs; I have vast experience; I am water conscious and use mulch; I monitor constantly and I care.

Oh yea. And Streaker Jones is my best buddy and Streaker Jones can grow the best of anything. Streaker Jones has a doctorate of plant sciences from Texas A&M and from The University of Texas he has doctorates in chemistry and botany. Streaker Jones knows all there is to know about plants and how to best grow the best plant specimens.

With his faithful sidekick, Dixie, they make a plant growing machine. Dixie can talk many plant languages so she interprets for Streaker Jones.

Actually, if you ask Streaker Jones why I grow such great tomatoes out to the ranch he will say, “Cuz I don’t allow Mooner to fuck with um.”

That is true at the micro level so I won’t try to argue about it. But at the macro level, it’s all about me. Like when I was doing this interview with Rolling Stone Magazine after Dixie was nominated for a European Grammy Award last year.

The little interview guy asked me, he said, “Mr. Johnson, to what does Dixie owe her great success?” and I told him, I said, “Well, I guess since I paid for her vocal lessons and never got her spayed, I can take most of the credit.”

I was going to spay her but her voice coach felt it might ruin her upper register and maybe kill-off some of her emotional range. I had to agree with him because when Dixie is in heat, she sings in this screachie high voice and sounds like what I imagine the Sirens must have sounded like back to mythology days. You can hear her wailing for a man in the neighboring counties as evidenced by the collection of horn-dogs that accumulates to the ranch when she freshens.

Freshens is the same thing as having her period except it sounds a little more sociable. And is animal talk.

Every year when I harvest the first fully ripened orbs from the garden I prepare my portable tomato prep kitchen. That is: a special hemp tote bag with tomato scenes stitched into the cover; a seven-inch Japanese chef’s knife with those crenelated indentions in the sides that keep the slices from sticking to the blade; knife stones, oil and chamois for sharpening; small cherry wood cutting board; two china plates for serving; three pepper mills with different pepper varieties; six dropper bottles of my favorite olive oils; my special cooler holding one Carta Blanca beer; and my antique silver snuff box filled with sea salt.

The only thing that might change from one season to the next would be the kind of sea salt I carry. Everything else is set in stone unless it breaks or wears out. But the salt is an evolving pursuit to find the perfect salt for tomatoes.

The last twenty years has seen my trips to salt mines and factories around the world. France and Italy and Korea and Africa and so on. This year is special because I got a chunk of that pink, so pink it’s almost ruby red hued, Himalayan salt. You see it on the cooking shows in big slabs that they use to both salt and serve the food like it was a plate.

It has a great flavor and I think it is showing great promise as a tomato salt. As always, my first pluckings from the vines are less acidic and not as sweet as they will be and the salt overpowered their flavors. But I am almost certain that when things hit full summer heat I might create me some magic.

Wine snobs say, “Mooner, beer is a remote second choice to a fine wine to support the sweet acidity of a perfect slice of tomato.”

To which I say, “Fuck you, shitball. Try this.” At which time the wine snob discovers the joy that is a thin slice of late summer Celebrity with Indonesian black pepper, gray French sea salt and two drops of Tuscan olive oil- which is folded in half and placed on the tongue for the thirty seconds it takes the salt to bring the juices out.

After thirty seconds chew slowly and then swallow. Wait ten seconds and then drink two-to-three ounces of icy cold Carta Blanca beer.

Call my name, Gabriel, cause I’m ready to go!

And don’t try to sell me another brand of beer because I already know better through personal experimentations.

I think my ADHD is almost under control and I am not even digressing at all. You guys think I can back off my psycho therapy to one session a day? Normally by this late in the day my ADHD would be digressing my socks off me.

Like yesterday when I got so discombobulated when I discovered that Luigi Fulks gave me an erroneous e-mail address.

Don’t you just love that word? And why don’t you spell it discomboobulated?

Would anybody buy my portable tomato prep kitchen if I put them for sale here to the bloggie?


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