WHB : Introducing the $50 tomato


I know I’ve written about tomatoes before for WHB, but I thought I’d revisit this fruit to share with you my attempts at growing them in a pot on our balcony.

The Grosse Lisse tomato is apparently a very popular cultivar in Australia. It usually yields medium to large fruit and is said to be a very reliable plant. The one we purchased from a nursery started off really well. We were advised to house it in a fairly large pot and to stake it once it started growing taller. In the following weeks it shot up in leaps and bounds and soon little yellow flowers were making an appearance. Exciting times. It wasn’t long before the first fruit started appearing. The very first was also the largest. At this point, it seemed to take forever but it grew and grew and eventually started to form a blush of red on it’s skin.

Then one morning, I got up, peered out the window to say hello to the Big T and it was gone. All that was left was a bit of stalk and a dangly bit of red flesh; an early bird’s breakfast. The horror. I, and the plant, never recovered fully from that event. The fruit and flowers that sprang willingly from the branches seemed to dwindle to a bundle of dried brown twigs and finally, we were left with a small fruit that we harvested early and allowed to ripen quietly on the kitchen counter.

Factoring in the costs involved such as buying the pot, potting mix, fertiliser etc. and including the amount of love poured over the plant (which was priceless, like MasterCard would say), I’ve calculated that this little tomato, weighing in at 30g, had cost us $50 to create. In other words, if you were to get it from the store, it would have been going for $1666/kg! Like the $100 hamburger and the $1000 brownie, this singular and only tomato to eventuate from the plant we nurtured has become a luxury item in it’s own right.

So I’ve told B that after this, we’re not attempting to grow our own tomatoes anymore. The very poor return, and emotional cost involved, means we should stick to the easier stuff.. like parsley. In the meantime, there are several ways to enjoy a $50 tomato. The most obvious way would be to slice it and sprinkle it with a good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a little seasoning. You could also cut it in half, season it well and dry the halves in the oven. You never know when you might need two pieces of oven dried tomatoes for a dish. Or you could eat it the Spanish way. Take a toasted piece of bread (it’d have to be a rather small piece, considering the size of the tomato), rub the toasted surface with garlic, then rub the tomato into the bread. Season with olive oil and salt, and what you have is effectively similar to a bruschetta, except it’s called Pan con Tomate or Pan amb Tomaquet. Top your Pan with thin slices of Serrano (or Iberico) ham if you have any, for that extra touch of luxury.

grosselissetomato.jpg grosselissetomato2.jpg


  1. Anh said,

    April 16, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

    Y, I understand the emotion involved when planting your own herbs/fruits/veges. My heart was broken when my lovely herbs were eaten by a possum a while back. But it just proves that you are a truly herb lover. 🙂

  2. Lorena said,

    April 16, 2007 @ 6:58 pm

    Oh gosh, heartbreaking! We’ve just had a similar experience with two not-quite-ripe butternut pumpkins. Found them torn off the vine and lying on the ground this morning. Bets are on a mysterious masked pumpkin vandal or a kangaroo.

  3. Helene said,

    April 16, 2007 @ 8:47 pm

    Well there´s nothing better than a self grown tomatoe still warm with sun beams in the afternoon!!!

  4. Y said,

    April 18, 2007 @ 10:47 pm

    A herbaceous possum! Who’d have thought! Maybe he/she’s on a low carb diet

    Lorena: You have kangaroos in your backyard?? And here I was thinking it was a bit of a myth us Aussies loved to perpetuate.. heh heh.

  5. Kalyn said,

    April 20, 2007 @ 1:35 pm

    Sorry to hear about the tomato misfortune. I wish I could send you some in the summer when I’m getting bushels of them. I do think gardening is expensive, sometimes, but I’m hooked on it anyway.

  6. Y said,

    April 20, 2007 @ 8:52 pm

    Kalyn, bushels of tomatoes, you say! I wish I could see your garden! What kind of tomatoes do you grow anyway?

    And I agree, gardening is expensive, but I love it too. Love looking out the window and seeing all the little pots of greenery (because of lack of space, we only grow “useful” things).

  7. Mir said,

    April 22, 2007 @ 1:01 am

    That’s just too sad, though have to say if I am forced to grow anything I need, I would have starved years ago.

    Oh poor rosemary, lemon thyme, chilli, coriander and dill…

  8. Amanda said,

    August 4, 2007 @ 8:00 pm

    We’ve had exactly the same thing happen. We’ve spent hundred of pounds for very little harvest. Still, it was fun trying – sort of!

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Comment