When it comes to pets, lots of people have cats, dogs or the occasional rock.
However, the first two on that list aren't allowed in my duplex and the third isn't very exciting.
So instead, my husband and I have opted for a nontraditional pet — the tomato plant.
We adopted our patio breed tomato plant a few weeks ago. His name is Teddy and he has been growing quite nicely on our back deck.
When we got him he had a single baby tomato and three flowers. At last count, he now has three tomatoes and 28 blooms.
Since he is a patio variety of tomato plant, he doesn't grow vines. Instead, he looks more like a bush.
We had many options when choosing a pet plant, but the reason we chose a tomato instead of any other kind is that we recently learned some unappetizing things about the national tomato industry.
For example, many tomatoes are picked when they are hard and green, then sprayed with a chemical that turns them red during their truck ride to the supermarket.
Tomatoes taste best when they're allowed to ripen before they're picked. Often, tomatoes that have been picked far away in places like Florida won't have as much flavor as locally-grown tomatoes that were picked at the right time.
There are also problems with the tomato-picking industry when it comes to fair wages and working conditions.
In order to get Teddy set up, we needed to place him somewhere where he would get at least six hours of sunlight every day. He also needed enough space to grow, so we transplanted him into a big pot and bought extra top soil with fertilizer in it.
We covered Teddy with the top soil right up to beneath his lowest row of leaves.
The next step was "suckering" — we had to remove all of Teddy's big leafy branches that probably were never going to produce any fruit. This way, Teddy was able to focus all his energy on branches that produce fruit.
I'm not sure if we'll be able to teach Teddy any tricks, but on the plus side, we never have to get out the pooper scooper. So far, he's turning out to be quite a good pet.