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Have you ever had a grape tomato plant get away from you? Say you weren’t able to cage it, stake it, or somehow contain it, and it sprawled out so much — and produced so much — that you eventually quit picking the tomatoes? Or maybe you keep on picking, but because of the massive sprawliness of the plant, you can’t help but miss some. Maybe they’re too far out of reach and you don’t want to trample on the plant. Or maybe it’s just such a jungle that you can’t even see the darned tomatoes through the foliage. It happens.

Now imagine you have not one, but six unstaked, uncaged, unconfined in any way, grape tomato plants. Imagine that they take over such a large part of your yard that you secretly start praying for an early frost to kill the buggers. And when that frost doesn’t come — you give up picking and just hope that some uber-gopher will come and rip them down an uber-gopher hole.

None of that happens, of course. Finally, though, there is a frost severe enough to kill them, and you spend a gleeful afternoon clearing out the undergrowth, nose streaming in the cold, hacking and yanking at dead tomato plants with a homicidal fervor. “Take that and that, you rotten things!

They heard you, you know. And in the hacking and pulling and yanking and throwing…a few ripe tomatoes fell to the ground. But you don’t see them. You’re too busy going all Braveheart on the tomato plants. If you could see them, though, they’d be making faces at you and saying, “just you wait, lady.”

Fast forward a few months. You notice a few little tomato seedlings in various places, and you’re not sure if you should move them or just pull them. You’re busy, though, and you leave it for another day, then another…until finally, they’re not seedlings, they’re plants that are too big to move. And they’re blooming. And setting fruit. So you leave them be. You even take the time to cage them, not knowing that their super sprawly tendencies will quickly topple over the cage.

And the little buggers try to take over the garden again. Ladies and gents, I give you: free range tomatoes. (No, really. I’m going to be giving you tomatoes. They’re going to be exploding with fruit pretty soon, and I don’t think even my little tomato hounds will be able to keep up. So if you’re local, and you don’t like grape tomatoes, lock your doors.)

No, there’s not. If you don’t have enough to can, you can eat them. If you have too many to eat, you can give them away. It’s pretty easy to find a home for extra tomatoes. But should the unthinkable happen (as in the world as we know it has come to an end and there’s no one around to take your lovingly tended, homegrown tomatoes) you can dehydrate them, juice them, even feed them to your chickens if you’re really desperate.

My mom read a story once about a teenage girl who planted Too Many Cucumbers. The upshot of the story was that their neighbors started locking their car doors, because the nascent gardener, when people started refusing to take cukes from her in person, had taken to slipping them into their cars. I can’t imagine that ever being a problem with tomatoes…although last summer, my neighbor was garden sitting for a friend, and started leaving boxes of ‘maters on my porch. He’d sneak up in the morning, leave the boxes on the doorstep, and slip away again. You’d think he felt guilty about it! Or maybe he was just trying to commit a random act of kindness.

So the tomatoes are coming in faster and faster. It won’t be long now… I hope.

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