Ask Dr. Bleedingheart


Dear Dr. Bleedingheart,

I got married last June, and don’t get me wrong, we’re very happy.  But lately I’ve made an awful discovery–my beloved hates tomatoes.  Absolutely hates them.  Won’t touch them, not on a sandwich, not in a salad, not even on a pizza.  She says they’re slimy and disgusting and there’s no convincing her otherwise.  She can hardly believe I want to take up space on our patio to grow some this year. 

How could I have missed this when we were dating?  Before we were married, I had visions of us strolling through the nursery, arm in arm, picking out tomato seedlings for our summer garden.  Is there anything I can do?  Is there any way to make a tomato hater into a tomato lover?

Tomatoless in Turlock

Dear Tomatoless,

An adult tomato conversion is difficult, but not impossible.  It requires patience and a willingness to sacrifice short-term gains for a long-term victory.  Don’t force every restaurant sandwich tomato on her.  Don’t guilt-trip her into trying your patio tomatoes as a way of testing her love for you.   

Start slowly:  during the first season, offer her one or two of the sweetest cherry or yellow pear tomatoes you can find, preferably sun-ripened and fresh off the vine.  Let that memory linger until the next season, when you might invite the neighbors over for a barbeque and set out a plate of the best heirloom tomatoes:  “Brandywine,” “Paul Robeson,” and–oh, I don’t know– “Green Zebra,” for instance, drizzled with a good, robust olive oil, shredded basil leaves, and salt and pepper.  Serve it with some crusty bread and nothing else.  If she’s hungry enough, she might just take a little nibble while you’re off firing up the grill. 

Don’t rush her, and remember:  every tomato she won’t eat is a tomato that will land on your plate instead.  Sometimes, a little difference of opinion is good for a marriage.


  1. If “Burned Out” does the Master Gardener program and likes it, he could look up the nearest land grant university and see if they offer a degree in horticulture. Talking to the faculty could give him an idea of what it would take to get through the program and get into the nursery business as a business owner rather than as a grunt worker. Taking some classes, perhaps part-time while still working, could give him a taste of what he’d be in for.

    He might also see if he can rearrange his schedule in such a way to allow him to take a part-time job at a garden center or nursery. A ground-floor job like that would give him a taste of what the business is all about.

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