grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Assessing tomatoes

I planted 5 tomato plants on May 21st - 4 different varieties.

It seems like every gardening blogger eventually shows us how full and lush their tomatoes are and this always leaves me feeling rather inferior. My tomatoes just don't look like theirs! I mean take a look at Michelle's "Tomato Safari" over at My Grandfather's Garden. What's the deal?

In my skinny tomatoes defense, it's the first time I've ever grown any and I my "soil amendement" consisted of throwing random inconsistent quantities of peat moss and potting soil in with the native dirt. I've only sprayed them with aspirin water (somebody said this boosts their natural immune system and I do think they looked better afterward) once and detergent water once (I read that this keeps down fungus after long periods of rain).

Here's the Sweet 100. It's planted on the north west corner of my kitchen garden. It has quite a few green tomatoes on it which I'm happy about. Still, it is barely out of the top level of the cage and I've realized after doing more plant shopping that my tomato cages are the smallest around. This picture makes it look kinda full in the middle but don't be fooled, that is mostly the Sweet Basil you are seeing which is planted in the background.
Here's one of my 2 Big Boys. It is planted right next to the Sweet 100. This one just now had to be staked because it was starting to droop over the top of the cage. I actually took the stake that I was using for the terminator rose because it had to be cut back so far that it no longer needed to be staked. No sign of any turning red on this one either, but the ones that are there look okay. Still not bushy though.

Here's the other not-so Big Boy. It's planted right next to the broccoli toward the north east corner of the kitchen garden. It only has 3 green tomatoes and is considerably shorter and skinnier than the other one. Doesn't it look bare?

Here's the Grape Tomato. I love this one because it has lots of itty bitty grape tomatoes that I'm really hoping will taste like the tomatoes at my favorite salad bar Treasure Island on Lake Shore Drive. None of them are turning red either but I think this one will produce quite a few delicious grape tomatoes for me. This one is planted in the middle of tomato row between Big Boy and Roma. It is the only other one that had to be staked. I know you can't see any actual tomatoes on this picture but you'll just have to take my word for it.And then there's Roma. This is probably my favorite tomato plant to watch. It's pretty low growing and I didn't stake or cage it per my mom. I like this one because it is much more bushy than the others. It has quite a few tomatoes on it but again, no sign of redness. If I remember correctly, my mom said these all ripen at the same time, which means I need to be looking for great pasta sauce recipes. I want to make my own Marinara sauce and my fantasy is that I can make enough pasta sauce to last us the entire year! I know, that's probably not reasonable since I loveeeeeeeeee spaghetti! But hey, I can always dream. I didn't show pictures of my basil and oregano plants but they are looking AWESOME and I'm hoping to use both of them for the pasta sauce.So, as you can see, my tomato plants are pretty darn puny. I keep trying to tell myself that I don't need them to be bushy and leafy and that maybe the fact that they are thinner than the others I see on blogs means mine are spending all their energy and nutrients on the fruit they are producing for me. I have considered fertilizing them with some organic stuff (they do make organic fertilizers I hear) but then I won't know what they would taste like without additives. This year, they are on their own. And if they taste fabulous I won't change anything next year. I'd rather have fewer mouth watering fruit than lots of bland ones. If they don't knock my socks off, I'll consider some changes next tomato season.

Congrats to all of you who are enjoying those delicious red tomatoes on your 4th of July burgers! I envy you.

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