Even during a warm winter, most of us spend part of the season dreaming of luscious summer fruits and vegetables, especially tomatoes. Yes, the vine-ripe variety are still a way off, but it is finally time to start planting and Tomatomania, the spectacular annual touring tomato seedling plant sale, is here to help.

The 2012 season begins with a free lecture on tomato varieties by Tomatomaniafounder Scott Daigrea and then a plant sale at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens — today, March 8, at 2:30 p.m.

If you can't make it then, don't fret: The first full-scale sale, with more than 300 varieties to choose from, will be March 23-25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Tapia Brothers Farm Stand in Encino. Get there early, wear clothes and shoes you don't mind getting dirty, and bring a cardboard box or plant tray to help transport your new plants home.

If you don't have a garden, remember, there are many varieties of tomato that thrive in containers on the ground or hung up. They can grow on balconies or on rooftops; heck, we even have a pot or two in the driveway. Don't let a lack of space deter you from one of life's simple pleasures.

Last year we attended with the intention of buying only four plants. How silly. Naturally, we came home with 16. Among our favorites and most prolific were Costoluto Fiorentino, Black Krim, Pink Ping-Pong and Jeune Flamme. Look for them, but leave us a few.

Follow Rachael on Twitter @chickswknives

LA Weekly