SPRING'S TANGIEST SIGN: It isn't like one day a group of ladybugs will come a-knockin' at your door, with the sole purpose of informing you that springtime is here. (If they did, however, they might inform you that any group of ladybugs is sometimes referred to as a "loveliness" of ladybugs -- oh so poetic and spring-sweet.) Spring, in fact, can be hard to predict, apart from the date on the calendar that tells us when we can start thinking about our gardens in a serious way and our sunhats and our grass-ready clogs and our warm-weather pursuits, gardening and otherwise. Some February days (and March days and April days) seem to trumpet, with dew and sun, that the season has started, while others leave us damp and flat. But one predictor of the bloomiest season is a hard-stay on the calendar. It can't be felled by a sudden cold snap, nor can a loveliness of ladybugs move its schedule one way or another. It's Tomatomania!, an on-the-road celebration of heirloom tomatoes, and it sticks to a springtime series of dates that take it (and its tomato-loving organizers) to points around California. Are you ready to embrace this annual symbol of the season? And to start to grow some glorious globes, orbs that arrive in all sorts of heirloom-lovely shades (think yellow, orange, red, brown)? Then see when the show, which "(s)tarted in the early '90s" in Pasadena, is headed for your area.
FIRST UP IS CORONA DEL MAR... over the first full weekend in March, and the last Golden State stop is Geyserville on the last Saturday in April. Several other cities shall be called upon, where fans of the fruit will comb through over "300 heirloom and hybrid tomato varieties." Beyond the selling of seeds, however, there shall be "classes, sales events, tomato tastings, and impromptu social gatherings at popular nurseries and gardening hotspots from coast to coast." We're just glad that our coast is so beloved by the "Tomatomaniacs" and that so many California cities get a springtime visitor. Could you set spring's beginning to when Tomatomania! shows up in your town? Well, maybe not, but until a loveliness of ladybugs shows up at your front door, to tell you spring is here, Tomatomania is a very good (and delicious) predictor of warmer days.