Juliet Tomatoes: Nature’s Candy for Kids

The last of the 'Juliet' tomatoes
The last of the ‘Juliet’ tomatoes

I can’t tell you how many times visiting children have come to our house convinced they hate tomatoes. I encourage them to try our tomatoes since we grow them at home and they’re not store-bought. These kids are skeptical. I’ve seen all sorts of silly dramatic faces when they’re about to try our tomatoes. They cringe and go “ew!” and do ridiculous things like only lick the outside and then set it back on the plate. But in our house if you don’t eat your salad, you don’t eat dessert so my kids have grown up on salad. And unfortunately for their playdate friends, we stick to this rule for visiting kids. “I don’t care if you don’t eat the tomatoes,” I tell them, “but in our house, we don’t serve dessert to kids who don’t eat their protein and veggies first.”

Most of these kids, I’d say about 95%, have been shocked that our tomatoes were actually “really good!” Some even asked for more. I always give them as many as they want. I believe they’re surprised because most haven’t a) eaten a homegrown tomato ever, and b) haven’t eaten a ‘Juliet’ tomato.

Now, I’m not really an expert in tomatoes. There are plenty of folks out there who grow much more ambitious tomatoes than I do. Different colored tomatoes, different shapes. They grow them in greater numbers and know way more about cultivating this lovely plant than I do. I’ve grown maybe a dozen different varieties. And while any tomato tastes amazingly sweeter and juicier than store bought ones (which I believe taste like sour water), there’s no sweeter — and easier to grow — tomato than ‘Juliet.’

‘Juliet’ tomatoes are small, roma tomatoes perfectly sized for salads or just snacking. They’re a cross between a cherry tomato and I think a paste tomato. Beautifully red, oval, disease-free in sun, and literally bursting with sweetness. They add such flavor to a summer salad, I can’t rave enough. You can start these from seeds but if you’re new to the process, growing from starts is easier. Buy from a quality nursery like Swanson’s or Sky or Molbak’s. Plant them around Mother’s Day, preferably in soil amended by one-third with compost. Water once a week (or whenever they sag in hot weather) and by late July, you’ll have a robust crop that’s taken over your trellis.

So if you have children, and they’re picky about veggies, I recommend trying ‘Juliet.’ They may end up doing what my kids do, argue about who gets to put more on their plate.

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