Tomatoes! A Love Affair

I’ve been in love with tomatoes since I had teeth! Everything about them makes me happy. Many of my favorite dishes begin with tomatoes: pasta sauces, salsa, soups, and salads. I often get secretly smug when I find out the base for a food is actually tomatoes. I think to my self “Well duh, of course it’s tomatoes, they’re the best thing on earth! Why wouldn’t it be?” Years ago I wrote a silly valentine to a silly guy I was dating stating I loved him more than tomatoes…. he was quite flattered.

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So naturally I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with in my garden. It started with my parents. They have always had one or two simple wooden hanging baskets with cherry tomato vines in the summer. I would eat them right off the vine like they were candy. I always roll my eyes when I see those silly tomato planters. Not only do they look goofy, they don’t seem to produce half as much as simple hanging baskets.

Theirs                                                             Mine 🙂

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I typically plant 3 starts per basket and use moisture control soil. Plan on watering these puppies religiously…. every day!! Interestingly, the cherry tomato plants don’t need a ridiculous amount of sun. Don’t get me wrong, the more the better. Mine only get about 5-6 hours a day and do really well. In WA, it’s critical to wait until May before you start playing with tomatoes. Any earlier and you risk frost and ruin! I’ve heard so many stories of people kicking themselves for buying their starts in April.

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This year I also decided to try my hat at bigger tomato varieties. I picked 4 different starts; Whopper, Beefmaster, Better Boy, and Brandywine. No rhyme or reason, I just liked the names. While I was picking out my starts a lady suggested that I cut off all the branches except for the top and bury the plants really deep. She told me this makes a bushier more productive plant. I actually thought she was trying to sabotage my garden! Who in their right mind would rip off all the branches!?!?!? So I went home and did a little research, sure enough she was right! Here’s a video that explains why:

I got 42 inch tomato cages which seemed big at the time… now that the plants are a couple of feet taller than the cages….. not so much. I used Miracle Grow tomato food once a week and waited…. and waited….. It felt like it took forever for them to take off. Then one day I looked over the plants were HUGE! And bursting with tomatoes!

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This was the first one I brought in!

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These days I get around 5-7 ripe ones a week.

Lessons Learned:

  • You don’t need “fancy” planters to grow good tomatoes
  • Advice given at nurseries should always be welcomed 🙂
  • I’m getting bigger tomato cages next year!
  • Planting tomatoes deep makes really hearty producers

5 thoughts on “Tomatoes! A Love Affair

  1. So pretty and yet… Let’s just say that, if I said I love you more than tomatoes, it wouldn’t mean much coming from me. :p But you already knew that.

    NOW if I said I love you more than ice cream…

  2. I loved the advice on how to plant in a shallow trench, I may try that next year! I didn’t do tomatoes this year because the weather started out so badly. That won’t be happening next year! I missed my tomatoes, I’m like you, they are like candy!

  3. Pingback: Tomatoes in My Freezer | Sotto Voce

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