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Musical pairing – Draw the Line by David Gray

It seemed like a good idea at the time. My first foray into gardening was embraced with both enthusiasm and determination – everyone knows that one must first scope out the space, then plot and mark the area, shovel, rake, hoe and amend the soil with compost and know, without a doubt, that you’ll be pulling weeds for the season. 

I researched heirloom seeds, talked with many a Master Gardner, poured over gardening catalogs before deciding that carrots, broccoli, turnips, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, eggplant, beets, corn, green beans, cucumbers, cantaloupe, watermelon, basil, parsley, thyme, sage, oregano and potatoes would make my first garden nearly perfect . . . as I labored preparing the ground, a childhood nursery rhyme sang in my head:

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row

Surrounded by the Blue Mountains of Walla Walla I dug, yanked, knelt, reached, stretched, and then soaked, aching muscles I didn’t know I had. Looking back I have no idea what I was thinking – that garden could have fed a small army – and I had overlooked one tiny little detail . . . because in my zest for planting my very first garden I planted 50, yes I did say 50, as in 5-0, tomato plants.

Let’s just say that this summer, the summer of my very first garden, I learned how to make all-things-tomato: sauce, paste, ketchup, salsa, soup and various other recipes I’m sure I’ve blanked out of my mind after weeks of being up to my armpits in tomatoes.

I wish I had known about tomato jam – I’d probably have skipped some of the other recipes as this is good enough to eat straight from the jar.



  1. 50 plants? Wow. Impressive, Debra. Good work! And this jam is reward enough, I’d say!

  2. 50 plants??!! I’m in awe. I thought I was drowning in tomatoes. I planted 6 against the house and they did just ok. However in my raised bed, where I didn’t plant a single tomato, about 20 Romas somehow sprung forth from the earth. And they produced like crazy. I have a few stragglers left behind … hopefully I’ll have enough to try this!

  3. Rolling in floor, Deb. Glad you got your hands dirty this summer! My fingernails do not see nail polish until late October. The question begs to be asked, “Was it worth it?” I hope you enjoyed the garden and more importantly I hope you garden again next year. You should think about Bourbon Tomato Jam…..giggles. I’m just saying.

  4. I love tomato jam – and like you have had a huge tomato bounty from my first homegrown tomatoes. I usually like adding ground cumin or a smoky paprika to add to the flavors a bit. Lovely recipe!

  5. We adore tomato jam. I make it once a year. One of my favorite ways to serve it is with a savory French toast. Makes a delicious lunch when paired with a nice, little salad.

  6. hehe.. I was exactly in your shoes this summer. My first year of gardening and first trial with tomatoes. If nothing else, then this season definitely taught me how much I can do with just the tomatoes 🙂
    That is one delicious jam recipe. Will give it a try with my last batch of harvest which is still left.

  7. I’ve made this jam and can attest to how yummy it is. BTW…if you just can’t handle the abundance, I can ship a paid box to you for sending me a few? I don’t miss much about the Midwest where I grew up but I sure do miss the tomatoes.

  8. Love this, you guys, so gorgeous!

  9. I wanted to make a big batch of tomato jam this summer, but FAIL! I didn’t. This looks so good. And as always, love reading your stories.

  10. What a stunning tomato jam! I would love to spread some of this over a fresh loaf of sourdough. So very good. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Pass me a spoon! This looks magical!

  12. I love tomato jam!! Yours looks simple with a pure tomato flavor. Lovely photos!!!

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