Paul Robeson

Now we wait. There isn’t much to do for the first 10-15 days after starting seeds, besides keep the soil most and wait. Given how early we started our seeds this year (there was a crocus!), it will likely be a while until we see our first sprouts.

I don’t mind waiting as much as you would think. I like this time of contemplating the garden and dreaming about all of the different foods we’ll make.

Tomato varieties have some of the most quirky names – I think because people invest so much time and energy into nurturing them. One of my favorite names is the Paul Robeson. Unlike the Burbank tomato (named for famed horticulturalist Luther Burbank), the Paul Robeson is not named after the person who developed it. Paul Robeson was an African American opera singer, actor, athlete and civil rights activist (among other titles), but not a botanist as far as I can tell. But he was targeted as a Soviet sympathizer during the McCarthy era and his performances were popular in Russia. The Paul Robeson tomato is a beefsteak tomato streaked with black stripes, developed in Russia by a fan. It’s a tasty slicer and we’re growing it for the second year running. I can’t wait for the first BLT of the summer – likely with a Robeson unless the pineapple tomatoes have an incredible year.

Recommended pairing: Champagne (Robeson was an opera singer, after all)