It’s waaay too early for optimism but I’m gonna cross my fingers, knock on wood and ask the Ghost of Pasta Dinners Past to think kindly on my so-far so-hearty tomato plants. Puh-leeze, Kind Ghost, grant me a dozen or so decent fruits this year! I’m not greedy,* I’d just like to watch the little globes grow on the vine, mildew-free, get enough for a coupla meals and bask in the satisfaction of a gardening job well done.
Is that asking too much?!!
Well, OK, maybe not. I might have been saved this year from the dreaded How Not to Grow Tomatoes Incompetence Syndrome by one of my blog followers. Perusing the timely post of a fellow organic gardener, I learned that purchasing tomato plants is more of an art than previously realized. According to Christienne Leigh Hinz’s article, buying a larger plant does not earn you any pizza points. In fact, you may be doing your plant a disservice by setting it up for shallow root disaster, including exposure to disease and insect depredations. Although I had not (just) planted flowering or, heaven forfend, fruiting tomatoes, they were not the humble 4” pots Hinz prefers but the larger, slightly more impressive type. Problem with this sort of showiness is that you may doom your efforts downstream by not allowing the plant to develop a sturdy root system in its new home before letting it take on more formidable tasks.
Hinz’ Sho’Nuff Organics solution is to ruthlessly trim the lower branches and almost start over. (She also posted a comment from someone who recommends petting the tops of your tomato plants and, dear me, I tried that, too. I mean, what did I have to lose?**) Then, after rearranging my plants’ silhouettes, I left town for six days. While I gallivanted, the garden caught the edges of Hurricane Andrea (lots of rain, not much wind) and when I got back, flashlight in hand, peering into the rain-spattered darkness, bingo! Big bushy tomato plants—happy, healthy and ready for pollinators. Don’t know whether it came down to trimming, petting, enough rain, not too much wind, just the right amount of heat or my fervent prayers but, heck, I’ll take it.
I’m not greedy. I grow tomatoes.
*Unless it’s chocolate we’re talking!
**Dignity? As if.
Copyright 2013, Lori Fontanes