Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tomato Madness (aka Stupid Things I Should Have Known)

Here is the wrong way to grow tomatoes. Think, oh, tomatoes, those are easy. Order some heirloom tomato plants. Don't read anything including the growing instructions that came with them. Put them in pots. Don't bother with cages... tomatoes are vines, right, so they can just wander, right? Put fertilizer in immediately. Water intermittently.


Here are some things that I really should have known if I'd just bothered to look.

1. Don't fertilize right away. Fertilize after the fruits have set or whatever it's called. Otherwise you will get TONS of foliage. Why is this a problem, you ask? Because tomatoes are heavy and at the same time the vines are remarkably brittle, and that leads me to point #2...

2. There's a reason why they sell tomato cages. Tomatoes need support. Remember those heavy foliage vines with the huge tomatoes that you've got because you fertilized too early and besides, it seems to be a great year for tomatoes? Well, they're going to split at the base or at the tips because you have given them no support, and you're going to drive yourself absolutely crazy trying to cage or stake something that is both really big and prone to breakage. All the while wondering if you're totally wasting your time because they're already kind of split. Also, if the fruit is on the ground, bugs are likely to eat it. And/or, it's not going to look very tasty.

3. Just accept the fact that you've got to water every day. Containers dry out fast, even if you fill them with that magical Miracle Gro stuff that retains water. Yeah, it would have been a good idea to mulch, too.

So.... I've got six mega-tomato plants with enormous but very green fruits on them and a serious weight problem. There's some kind of humor in this somewhere.

Next year, I want to do a full-scale garden with raised beds. Maybe I should actually READ something first rather than assuming that vegetables can't really be that complicated.

Oh, and one more tip. Make sure that you know where the sprinkler is relative to you before you turn it on...


Crabby McSlacker said...

We're growing tomatoes for the first time this year (and by "we" I don't actually mean me--my role is to admire and eat). Many of the same lessons being learned at our place too.

And that last one totally cracked me up.

carla said...


so you lost me (wink) and then won me back with your last line.

I never check.
I never learn.
and now I always do so to see my Toddler giggle.


Nina said...

I used to do that to amuse my toddler too, but now he's 14 and all I get is looks of total scorn. No one does scorn like a 14 year old....