Grow Your Own

Baby 'maters.

Baby 'maters.

I’m pretty ticked that I have baby tomatoes on the plant I haven’t killed yet. I’m also concerned that I only have two.

I tried veggie gardening about fifteen years ago and it was Not Successful. Flowers are easy; vegetables not so much. There was also the problem of Bambi and Cohorts. [Note: I did get some amazing radishes out of the deal and I don’t understand why I don’t grow radishes every year – talk about easy.]

Grow Your Own

Grow Your Own

My dad keeps a fairly large garden and I’ve always relied on him for home grown tomatoes. In recent years he’s gotten stingy about them. After a couple years of denial that my father could be so cruel, this cute little tomato plant at the nursery (complete with Grow Your Own Tomato sign) insisted on coming home with me.

It was in a fairly large pot and I decided that perhaps, given my soil, growing tomatoes in a pot might be more fruitful. After peering at the provided pot, I decided it was too small for a mature root system which I hoped would form. I purchased a dandy tomato-growing pot. I don’t think it was specifically designed to grow tomatoes, but it looked like it would do the trick and was attractive. I’m all about aesthetics in the garden this year.  I’m also all about self-reliance and, if dad is going to be stingy, I’m going. . .

Potted Tomato

Potted Tomato

For the curious, my tomato plant is a Better Boy. The name appealed to me – who wouldn’t want a Better Boy? When I brought him home, he was about a foot high. Now over two feet tall, he’s sporting two green lobes and nary another bloom anywhere that I can see. This is in keeping with my vegetable woes – I buy a supposedly idiot proof tomato plant and get a whopping two lobes of fruit.

If the past predicts the future, one of my tomatoes will develop blossom end rot and the other one will get eaten by varmints. Unless, I can persuade Dad to be more generous with his bounty, I’m going to be tomato-less again. Maybe.  I feel kind of good about my tomato plant.  It looks really healthy and happy.  Maybe my two ‘maters are just overachievers and the other laggards.  Hmmm. . .I think that’s it.

Last year a co-worker took pity on me and gave me tomatoes. She and her husband plant all sorts of varieties and I was particularly fond of the yellow ones. When the tomato plants at the nursery were hollering Pick Me, Pick Me, none of them bore a sign that said Grow Your Own Yellow Tomato.

Yellow tomatoes are particularly good if chunked (along with a red tomato), mixed with cubed avocado and sprinkled with sea salt and coarse ground pepper. The taste is spectacular and, if presented in a vivid blue bowl – quite the eye candy (had you taken the picture after you learned about the macro setting on the camera 🙂 ). Any tomato is good with cucumbers and onions. Then there’s just quartering them and eating them standing over the kitchen sink. That’s good too.  Sliced thickly and liberally sprinkled with fresh ground pepper is a lunch time favorite.  Diced finely and put on a bed of fresh spinach with a nice viniagrette is yummy.

Yellow and red tomatoes with avocado.

Yellow and red tomatoes with avocado.

And then there’s the BLT sandwich. There’s no point in such if you don’t have home grown tomatoes. If you do, toast some thick cut sourdough or whole wheat bread, spread with mayonaise, heap a ton of crisp bacon on the mayonaise and top with thick sliced tomatoes and iceberg lettuce. [Note: Tacos and BLTs are the only reason iceberg lettuce exists and it’s a must for these two.]

In short, except for making ketchup, there’s not much you can do to a home grown tomato to ruin it other than pick it too soon.

One never ever not ever under any circumstances refrigerates real, i.e. home grown, tomatoes.  Never.  Such abuse of innocent ‘maters should be punishable by large fines and short jail terms. It won’t ruin them completely, but it will sorely compromise their wonderfulness.

I’m very hopeful that Better Boy will come through for me and keep me in tomatoes at least for a week or two after which I will go groveling to Dad and co-workers.  In the interests of self-respect and self-reliance, I’ll take any tomato-growing hints y’all might want to offer.

6 Comments

Filed under July 2009

6 responses to “Grow Your Own

  1. I grow Better Boy tomatoes because they’re disease resistant and really good bearers. But I grow mine in the ground and I don’t know much about growing them in containers. Maybe not enough sun? Another possibility is that the greenhouse pumped him up with nitrogen to get him growing, and added a little chemical spray to get early blooms. Like when you buy flats of flowers and they’re two inches tall and covered with blooms? That’s because they’ve been sprayed with a chemical to make them do just that. It stunts their growth and usually takes them a while to recover.

    Your plant seems to be growing just fine, though. So it might be some other cause like no pollination (still need the bees), too much shade, or too much nitrogen (which grows lush leaves but not so much fruit).

    We usually prune our tomatoes too, to make them produce bigger fruit and less foliage. But I don’t think that it affects whether they set fruit, just how big it gets.

    I agree completely about tomatoes. I eat them 3 meals a day when in season and between meals for snacks. We grew 10-12 different varieties this year, which is about our usual. The first ones to turn orange are ripening on the windowsill now. Maybe by July 4th they’ll actually be ripe!

  2. Every once in a while, miracle-gro, sez my dad. Also, I believe he mentioined bone or blood meal or some such to keep rabbits away. You can make your own bug begone with onions and garlic, although I’ve never tried it myself. Use pie tins of beer to drown slugs in.

    • That pie tin of beer never worked for me. (Story of my life.) I’ve got the thing planted in miracle grow potting soil. You’d think it would be happy. Well, it is happy. Perhaps it has vowed not to spawn so as to enjoy life without parental responsibilities. Then, there’s the possibility that since the sign says Grow Your Own Tomato (singular) that it’s already an overachiever by sprouting two.

      Tomato farming is complicated.

  3. Roseann

    I like them sliced with olive oil, chopped basil and just a small sprinkle of balsamic vinegar. Sadly, I started Sweet Cherry 100s a few years ago and now I’m over run with them. They’re tasty but tedious to slice.

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