Have you ever read something on the Internet and thought to yourself, “Cool. But way too much trouble. On the other hand, I wonder if it works…” That’s what I thought to myself when I first read about the Love Apple Farm tomato-planting method.
Click through for the details, but I can summarize with one word: “fishheads.” (That is one word, right?)
Planting tomatoes with fishheads in the holes sounded pretty darn crazy to me the first time I read it. But I made the mistake of bookmarking the page, and during the dark, cold days of winter, I returned to it while fantasizing about fresh tomatoes. “How hard could it be,” I thought, “to snag some fishheads and give it a try?”
[That’s how Extreme Vegetable Gardening starts, you know. First you’re fantasizing about fresh summer tomatoes, and the next thing you know, you end up with a garbage bag full of flounder bodies in the freezer. It’s a slippery slope.]
As it turned out, it was a lot harder to find fishheads than I originally imagined. The first place I looked was the local seafood shop. “Fishheads?” replied the perplexed clerk. “We get all our fish as fillets from Boston. No fishheads, sorry.”
Boston? They’re on the ocean in Westerly, RI and they’re getting their fish from Boston?
I then proceeded to make a nuisance of myself with the waitstaff of all my favorite local restaurants. I would ask, and they would all gamely traipse into the kitchen to ask the chef, and they would all came back shaking their heads sadly. I spent a fortune in tips that week.
Then I vaguely remembered that there are few fish wholesalers in Tiverton, and my brother lives there, so I asked him to ask around. That’s when I first heard the term “flounder racks.” This is apparently what is left of the flounders after they get through filleting them. My brother found a guy who would be willing to give me a mess of flounder racks. I sent off an email to the guy immediately. He never replied.
Finally, I remembered that there were a few local fishermen who set up at the Stonington Farmer’s Market, so one fine Saturday morning, off I went. That’s where I found Bob, Captain of the JennyLynn out of Stonington. We set up a date to meet at the dock later that week. Bob came through! I left the dock with a five-gallon bucket of flounder racks!
Of course, it was still two weeks from Memorial Day, the official tomato-planting date. So I spent a lovely hour piling individual flounder carcasses into a garbage bag, separated with sheets of waxed paper, and stuffing the whole stinky mess into the downstairs freezer. Yum.
But I did it. Last Saturday, I planted my tomatoes the Love-Apple Farm way, with a flounder rack in the bottom of the hole. (By the way, it’s darned hard to pry frozen flounder bodies apart, waxed paper or not. I ended up chiseling them apart with a screwdriver and a hammer. Extreme Vegetable Gardening indeed.) I will keep you all apprised.