Tomatoes across the world

by | Nov 29, 2013 | Uncategorized | 17 comments

 This post was created in my mind over a month ago. It’s been gestating slowly. I’ve always used only my own photos on this blog, but today I break the rules, and you will see why.

It began when in the same week I read two posts from favourite blogging friends. Both mentioned the same thing: gathering in the very last of the tomatoes.
Celi writes a daily blog about self-sufficient organic farming on the prairies of USA. She works hard, has a lively imagination and writing style, and a great sense of humour. On October 19 she put up a post called Peahens on the catwalk kitten in the garden, in which she posted this photo:

and wrote:
bringing in as much produce as is left in the gardens, tonight it is meant to freeze down to 35F (1.6C) so it is a race against time. Who knows if the tomatoes will survive that anyway.

 Now it was only a week earlier that I had planted the first tomato seedlings out at the bach. And in the same week discovered an accidental tomato plant, which had popped up beside the spinach in a pot on the balcony in town.
Only two days after Celi’s post, I discovered Penny had posted on exactly the same subject. Her blog is about life on the Cutoff, a block of land in the midwest USA, visited by deer, grandchildren, books and whatever Penny’s roaming imagination calls in. Penny tends a community garden, and in her post Soups and Shawls and Bittersweet’, she included this picture of her last harvest:
She wrote how it was a good time of year to take stock: 
It is also time to clear out our plot . . . I harvested a good hat full of tomatoes last week, and Tom and I gathered more this weekend. Soon, very soon, the plants will be pulled and composted, the fencing will come down, and we will sigh a good sigh at the fruits we reaped from our efforts as well as the sense of community that prevailed.
Meanwhile my little tomatoes at the bach were growing fast. I took this photo on the same day that Celi brought in her harvest. That week, the accidental tomato on my balcony in town surprised me by bursting into tiny yellow flowers.
Now my blogging friends are hunkering down while the snow falls, the cold winds blast and the mercury plunges to the kind of lows that we never experience here in Auckland.
 Here, we are now fruiting and expanding. There, they are drawing in.
For several decades I’ve been writing about the seasons. ( My mission was to establish, very firmly, a seasonal calendar for the southern hemisphere. I wanted people to wake up to where they were living, to take charge of the fact that Christmas, for example, is a winter solstice festival. We don’t have to spray snow everywhere in the heat of summer, pretending we live in the north. We can embrace our own seasons, bring in our own symbols, celebrate with pohutukawa and picnics, on beaches and balconies, with sun and sand.
This work kept me very focussed on the seasons of the southern hemisphere. My blogging friends from the north, who are so connected with the rhythm of the land in their hemisphere, have stretched my awareness back to include the whole planet. Autumn and spring, winter and summer: these are the polarities that we find ourselves in as one human family. 
Now, whenever I celebrate our seasons of Aotearoa New Zealand, in the other half of my mind I am remembering my friends who are in the opposite time. 
We are one family.
We share tomatoes across the world.
*Thank you Celi and Penny for being happy for me to share your images and words here.


  1. Hotly Spiced

    I love Celi’s blog too. I’m always super impressed by how she meets the challenges of living in such a remote part of the world, head-on. And she is gifted in so many areas and I don’t think there are too many things she can’t turn her hand too xx

  2. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – it’s so important to remember our seasons – I agree and I love seeing what you’re doing with your garden in town and at the bach.

    The States seems to have had some early snow .. but here we’re still autumn coloured, yellowing leaves on the trees … warmish – I have the windows open .. they’ll be shut soon! Thankfully the sun is so far round .. there’s a little of it on my back keeping me warmer and cheerful with the windows open!

    I’m going to try and take in some of the seasonal aspects this year and relish the seasons as they change – Cheers Hilary

  3. Juliet Batten

    * Charlie, I might have discovered Celi’s blog through you in the first place. It’s amazing what she does isn’t it?
    * Hilary, lucky you still having some autumn mellowness. I’m sure you’ll be making the most of it.
    Thanks Charlie and Hilary, good to see you here and your comments are appreciated.

  4. Vicki Lane

    Such a thoughtful post! I know my life has been enriched by seeing posts from bloggers in the southern hemisphere. I can enjoy tomatoes growing and roses blooming while there is snow outside. We are two side of a global mirror and I rejoice in it!

  5. Juliet Batten

    * Vicki: ‘two sides of a global mirror’ – what a poetic way of putting it. Thank you for your understanding comment.

  6. Juliet Batten

    Linda, how nice to see you here. Thanks for your kind words, and now I’m going to visit you in Colarado!

  7. Anonymous

    aha, I’ve got here at last, and found this gorgeous post…
    did I miss the tomatoes on your balcony? ah well next time… no tomatoes my end…I keep off them for arthritic reasons sadly..Love Valerie

  8. Juliet Batten

    *Valerie, hurray! So happy to see you here, and thanks for your comment. I’m saving your lovely book for the bach as I want to savour it.

  9. cecilia buyswheeler gunther

    I read this yesterday and had to come away to think for a bit. The seasons and their movements about the world are not a small thought, they are so influential yet they have been trivialised. Lost. Beating the season is more fashionable. Let me say that again. We do our best to ignore the seasons, almost work against them in a way. trying to grow plants out of season and in the wrong latitude. Air conditioning and heating. Insistent on walking out in the elements when it is obvious that it is the wrong time. Trying to curb the weather to meet our trivial needs. Do you see what I mean. Driving out to shop when any normal person fifty years ago would have done no such thing in that weather and that season. The seasons have been replaced with holidays, christmas, mothers day, halloween. these dictate.
    The way you live is so deeply refreshing. Every change and colour is embraced and incorporated into your day. You allow the seasons to speak, to sing and sometimes to moan out loud. Allowing our summers to simply be summers, not moaning that it is too hot or too dry .. it just is. It will follow spring and precede autumn. This is why you are wondrous, your calm and love of the beach in all her clothes is like a balm to me. Thank you.. c

  10. Juliet Batten

    Celi, what a beautiful and thoughtful comment. You are so right. Beating the seasons is fashionable: how very true. When I walk into a supermarket and see Italian kiwi fruit on sale I feel deeply offended. I’m very happy not to taste kiwi fruit when they are not in season, but consumer demand means that the shops override the natural rhythms of life.
    You are living with the beat of the earth so profoundly, which is one of the (many) reasons I love your blog so much.
    Thank you for your kind words, for visiting, and for doing what you do. Off to do tai chi on the beach now, and I’ll say hello to the sea for you.

  11. silkannthreades

    And how curious it is that the tomato has managed to take all our seasons, worldwide, in its stride;dispatched from its native soil it has figured out how to be at home wherever it is planted. Remarkable!

  12. Juliet Batten

    Silkannthreades , that’s an interesting point. Yes, the tomato itself has roamed across the world. Thank you.

  13. Penny O'Neill

    I cannot think of anyone I would like to share a global tomato with than you, Juliet. I have learned much about celebrating and honoring the seasons from your writing, and I’ve gained an stronger awareness of our polar differences that carry similar rhythms, despite the distance.

    Thank you for the thoughtful mention. We just ate the last of the tomatoes from that crop. I was wondering what you were going to post, and I couldn’t be more enthralled with what you did. Now, I must take some time to discover Celi’s blog.

  14. Juliet Batten

    Penny, thank you, and you are so welcome. I love your turn of phrase, ‘share a global tomato’. I hope yours were nice and tasty, and do check out Celi’s blog as it is very lively. It’s so special to have this connection with you.

  15. Friko

    We share tomatoes across the world.

    Yes we do.

    Mine hav long gone. The soil is barren and we’ve closed down for winter.

    I like the idea of celebrating the seasons wherever you happen to live. I don’t envy you your climate if you don’t envy me mine. We simply turn and turn about.

  16. Juliet Batten

    Friko, thanks for visiting. Your time for tomatoes will come around again. Turn and turn about, as you say.


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