It’s been a silly year for tomatoes in my garden! Everything I’ve ever done in the past that has been right for tomatoes before, went wrong this year. It’s not that I’m upset, how could I be? I’m gardening! You know what they say about gardening:
And tomatoes I got, just not in a very uniform or pretty way. This was a season of learning when it came to my favorite vegetable….fruit….vegetable….whatever!
To begin, it’s funny the things that slip through ones cracks of knowledge when you self teach a skill. Like correctly using tomato cages. Apparently the spiky parts go into the ground! I did not know that! They sell them upside down so I just assumed that was the correct position. It didn’t bother anything last year since I planted them next to the fence, so they had their support anyway. But this year I planted them in the back with no support other than the inverted cages. So there was a lot of falling, twisting, breaking, binding, and eventually throwing my hands up and letting them do whatever they wanted. Mountain Man and I laughed a lot at this small yet crucial tidbit that neither of us knew. Furthermore, the cages are too small for the breeds I keep getting. So next year, bigger cages and spiky parts in the ground!
Next there is the issue of ripening. It’s September and I’ve got boatloads of green tomatoes. I really want them to turn red so I can make sauce for soups and pastas in the winter! I’m fairly sure that the toppling and jimmy-rigging to compensate for the cages hindered the ripening process considerably. If anyone has any advice as to how to get tomatoes to ripen faster, please comment!
I saw this somewhere last year when I was doing my research and now it makes sense. There is no way I’m letting all these gorgeous tomatoes rot in the chilly fall evenings. So they’ve come inside, where it’s warm and onto window sills that get lots of sun. Hopefully this will do the trick! I really want to make sauce this upcoming weekend.
On to the cherry tomatoes. Welp, these were not proud moment of mine either. I cut a lot of corners this year because I was so impatient. First, when I went to my go to garden store (McClendon’s) apparently everyone had beat me to the cherry tomato starts! And I thought I was early! Nope! Down on the bottom behind a bunch of larger breeds I found just a few sweet millions, grappettes, and stupice, which aren’t really cherry tomatoes but I thought I’d give them a whirl. A few days later I swung through Fred Meyer and they had TONS of cherry tomato starts! Arg!
Then when I planted them in their boxes I mixed compost with soil from the garden. Terrible idea! I put in way too much compost and the loamy soil practically cemented every time it got wet. I think this really hindered the root growth and caused the plants to stay skinny. Using the soil from the garden also meant bringing some weedy friends into the mix….
this is just ridiculous. Next year it’s a little compost and a nice potting soil I think.
Overall, the sweet millions still did pretty well and had that true cherry tomato flavor. The grappettes were decent too. But the stupice were just about the worst tasting tomato I’ve ever had, homegrown or store bought! The flesh is really soft and the flavor is really watered down. We started referring to them as “stupids” instead of their proper name.
MM did help me put in a drip system on a timer which may have salvaged the cherry tomatoes in the summer heat. I really loved not having to water the garden each night. And our water bill was significantly cheaper than last summer since the system only needed 10 minute to properly water the hanging baskets and the soaker hoses running through the entire garden.
Yeah, it wasn’t the best year for my favorite, but I learned a lot and next year will be better.
After reading this, if you have any suggestions or advice for growing really great tomatoes, I would love the guidance 🙂