It’s a Fruit! It’s a Veggie! No, it’s a Tomatoberry!


TomatoberrySometimes we don’t even have to write our own headlines.  They arrive, as if by magic, in the mail.  This just in from Johnny’s Selected Seeds:  the Tomatoberry. Bred by the Tokita Seed Company, which is also responsible for rolling out the ultra-sweet ‘Sungold.’  This little baby is shaped like a strawberry and reaches about an inch in length, making it perfect for all your inch-long, strawberry-shaped needs, whatever they may be.  (Go ahead and tell us all about those needs in the comments.  We couldn’t stop you if we tried.)

Do we need another cherry tomato?  And if so, do we really have to go around calling it the Tomatoberry?  You decide.

Next order of business:  Bees. Has anyone else noticed the recent disappearance of bees?  No, I’m not talking about the disappearance that the New York Times reported on.  I’m talking about the one the New York Times caused.  Ever since that damn story ran, it has been impossible to find orchard mason bees, those native North American solitary foragers that you used to be able to buy in larval form, all tucked into little cardboard tubes, for about twenty bucks a pop.  You’d keep them in the fridge until the appropriate date ("Honey?  What are these little crunchy things in the straws?") and then set them outside and let them hatch, pollinate your apple tree, make love in your flower garden, and lay eggs in the pretty little bee house that you might have bought for them or in any old piece of rotten wood they might find around your garden. 

Those were the days, right?  But now, thanks to the NYT, everybody’s out of bees.  We managed to find a few tubes of Osmia californica, a native bee that hatches a little later than the orchard mason bee, and they’re resting comfortably next to the chorizo tofu and the martini olives as we speak.    We’ll keep you posted on their status.

AND… it was great fun meeting so many of you on the Flower Confidential World Tour, which is not exactly over, but has certainly calmed down.  (Check here for the latest listings.)  For one thing, you are all much better-looking than you let on in those mostly-anonymous blog profiles you hide behind. We may have to start requiring you to submit semi-nude photos before we allow you to post in the future.  Second, you’re all terribly funny and in-the-know and just exactly how I imagined you might be.  We simply must find an excuse to hang out together more in the future.  Meanwhile, I am back to blogging, and thanks to my fellow Rant-Ettes for ranting on without me.  More Tales From the Road coming soon…


  1. Amy, blame the Owens/Goodell household for at least part of the shortage. The family is now officially on a honeybee kick, and my husband and nine year-olds are signed up for a 6.5 hour bee-keeping class this Saturday.

    Two questions: Did you notice any improvement in your garden, post-bee?

    And, how do you get away with releasing bees in a city? No neighbors made crazy by the bees?

  2. Well, these are just a few little native bees, and they don’t build hives like European honeybees do. They just bumble around and do their thing. So I don’t think the neighbors will know or care. I’m interested in having a hive, but my spouse nixed that idea. Chickens, worms, bees…it’s getting crowded.

  3. Amy, are you finding that you have more bees nesting in your garden?
    Are the bees nesting in your garden after being released there?
    Last year we had quite a few yellow faced bees that were all over the yellow coneflower (ratibida pinnata). Bumble bees and carpenter bees were plentiful around here as well.
    No pesticides no herbicides and leaving areas for the bees to nest is working I just wish more of our neighbors would join us gardening with the pollinators in mind.

  4. It rarely gets very hot out here in the Pacific Northwest islands, and we’ve never had much luck growing tomatoes. Last year, we finally gave cherry tomatoes a try, and enjoyed decent tomatoes for the first time since we left Spokane. If the tomatoberry offers more than just a novelty name, I’d be interested in giving it a tryout.

  5. It’s still slim pickin’s for bees around here. But they were all over the iris this evening.

    I know people who have kept hives in town. If you site them correctly (mostly forcing the bees to fly up when they leave the hive), few people will notice.

    Old Doc Morse, deceased Cornell bee guru, used to say that the only way to keep stinging insects out of populated areas would be to outlaw flowering plants. Keeping hives shouldn’t be considered a nuisance, and this is coming from a guy who gave up beekeeping because of the lousy reaction I have to stings.

  6. Will the Flower Confidential tour be making any Canadian stops? I bought the book at the local Chapters bookstore and wondered if an author sighting would happen at some point.

    Perhaps we will have to work at getting on the tour stop …

    I have added Garden Rant to my garden blog links!

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