The Tomato Lady of Oak Park

In the garden,

dreaming tomato dreams

Spring Seedlings

Preorders for 2022 now OPEN – order by February 13th.

Plant list for 2022 preorders is here. Preorder form is here.

Since 2010 I’ve been sharing my extra seedlings with other gardening and plant fans. Originally, I sold extra plants from my seed starting to help fund my own gardening “habit” each year. After years of friends telling friends about the “tomato lady” it’s grown into a small cottage industry, a good way to get me “gardening” as early as January tending the plants in the basement, and a way to let me connect year after year with all kinds of fans of gardening, growing, and food.

Each spring hundreds of seedlings are tended & shared with fellow tomato, veggie, flower and herb lovers. It’s mostly tomatoes, with a few other varieties each year that I can’t resist trying out and sharing. I start from organic and non-GMO seed where available, planting according to the bio-d calendar, using natural fertilizers. Each plant is in its own 3″ plantable peat pot to reduce plastic use/waste and transplant shock.

The plant list and pre-order is released to the Tomato Lady fan email list in early-spring. Later, in mid-spring, a second email goes out with the ability to reserve plants in advance for pick up starting in early May. I am located in SE Oak Park at 1026 S. Cuyler Ave. If you’d like to sign up for the spring plant list and all things green and growing please subscribe here

About me

Growing up in the Midwest, early gardening memories involve riding in the kiddie seat on the front of Dad’s bike on the way to the community garden plot at the edge of town. Comprised of small plots of land parceled out of a former farm (and with the remaining farmhouse and source of water at the front edge of it) I remember summers tending, weeding, watering, harvesting & eating lots of veggies, but most of all the tomatoes. By mid to late August, the kitchen counters in our house would have a nearly-solid cover of homegrown tomatoes in varying stages of ripeness, and almost every meal would involve at least one; freshly sliced, warm summer room-temp, and frequently sprinkled with a little sugar (unusual I know, but one of the best ways to experience the “vegetable” that is botanically a fruit.)

The timing for me to come of age, leave home, and move away from the home garden coincided with the the origins of hothouse tomatoes which were unfit to be sharing the same name as the juicy delights I knew growing up. My tomato hankerings meant a couple of five gallon buckets on my fire escape in Chicago apartments in order to have a few “real” tomatoes. As the heirloom market became more known, and my growing space more accommodating, I started growing varieties from seed to get access to a wider selection of seedlings than I could find at the nursery, and the ability to escape the Midwest winter by going into the basement and tending to my “gardening” was a fantastic bonus. Now I share my efforts with fellow gardeners, and specifically, tomato lovers. Hope you have a wonderful “tomato year” this year!

“Thank you Lissa Dysart aka Tomato Lady! So grateful for your talent and hard work in the winter and spring that made it possible for me to grow these amazing and unique tomatoes. It’s been a joy to taste them and share with friends.”

-Rebeccah

All images with Lissa: Photo credit Alexa Rogals/Oak Park Wednesday Journal

Instagram @ TomatoLadyOak Park


Read more about my tomato passions in the Wednesday Journal article here: https://www.oakpark.com/News/Articles/5-7-2019/Oak-Park’s-‘Tomato-Lady’/

AND MORE TOMATO TALK WITH GREEN COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS HERE: https://www.greencommunityconnections.org/recent/2021/6/23/tips-from-the-tomato-lady-how-to-grow-the-tastiest-tomatoes

Planning for 2022

Preorders will open in January – I’m currently making the list for plants available.
If you’re not on the email list yet, sign up here.

Get in Touch

Tomato Lady of Oak Park – Subscribe to my spring plant list email HERE
TomatoLadyOakPark@gmail.com


Photo Credit: Alexa Rogals/Oak Park Wednesday Journal

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Happy tomato dreams!

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