A crazy farang is growing 100 tomato plants on the 10th floor balconies of his condo in Pratunam. But maybe he is not so crazy after all. He may be the Johnny Appleseed of heirloom tomatoes in Thailand.
Douglas Thompson is crazy about tomatoes. He grew up in the Northern California wine country, where most people with gardens grew so many of them that they were difficult to give away. By comparison, tomatoes grown commercially in Thailand are tasteless genetic mongrels grown for uniform color and to get to market quickly. If you have never tasted any other kind of tomato, you will be astonished. If you have spent any time in North America, Europe or Australia and have fallen in love with the tomatoes there, just the stinky scent of a vine tomato plant will make you sentimental and your mouth water.
Douglas grows “heirloom” tomatoes, which are very old varieties that have not been hybridized. Some are as small as a pea, others are the size of a small pomello. They are red, green, yellow, chocolate colored and sometimes even striped.
Some tomatoes grow happily in Bangkok, but not on a tenth floor balcony, so Douglas has plants that are ready to go outdoors. Some are beginning to flower, so they will produce ripe fruit within a month. If you have the proper conditions (300 degrees of direct sun, good water, and mild wind) he will give you ten to twenty plants to try yourself. If you have any successs with them, he can produce about 100 plants every month. There are a few conditions. You can find those in a small, illustrated booklet he has written about the fundamentals of tomato-growing. You can get a copy mailed to you free if you send your name and address to: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also download it from this link: Growing Tomatoes for Beginners.
He would also love to give hands-on half day classes free to groups of up to ten. If you are interested, also included your phone number in your email.
For more details, you can also check out Bangkok Post’s story on Douglas and his tomatoes. http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/family/409124/in-search-of-the-tasty-tomato.