It’s TO-MAY-TO, DANG IT, and it does matter.
I LOVE tomatoes! So, naturally, when I started my ‘growing at home’ venture I started with tomatoes and a few easy peasy herbs. With all that, I didn’t start from seed and bought at the local Wal-Mart as young plants. I’m on my third season/year of growing stuff and I feel that each year my garden and my need to learn is expanding. The first year, 2015, was a flop. I had maybe ten tomatoes from my two tomato plants that were in containers and the plants shriveled up around July. That was the end of that tomato show!
The next year, I moved and had more room to actually plant things in the ground. I planted around six or seven tomato plants, two squashes, two broccolis, two cauliflowers, six okras, two watermelons, one asparagus, four peppers, six lettuces and my trusty herbs because Wal-Mart has this power that when I go in it makes me feel like I MUST have ALL. THE. THINGS! Seven types of basil? OF COURSE I NEED THEM! It’s like I pass through the automatic door of the Garden Center and I hear “Gotta catch ‘em aallllll” ringing in my ears. Ok, 2016 Garden, I thought I was a professional at this point. I mean I had ten tomatoes the previous year… Did I mention I put these twenty or so new plants in a 4’x6’ plot? Let me tell you, this year the plants didn’t exactly “thrive”, to say the least. I’m sure it was the heat or something?
Anywho, that year I ended up only having fruit from the tomatoes, squash, lettuce and peppers and everything else died or so I thought. It turns out asparagus takes two to three years to produce. Jokes on me! I now have an asparagus plant that looks like a house fern that is four feet tall.
My tomato plants lasted until about July again but they were taken out by the infamous tomato villain, the HORNWORM. They filled their fat bellies and took my plants down to twigs within two days. Here is a picture from a Facebook group that I mention a little later.
So, this year my garden has grown, again. I have spaced things out a wee bit better and I have condensed down my plant choices. Sometimes in my spare time, I practice self-control for fun! I now have twenty-six tomatoes, nine squashes, seventeen peppers, ten okras and my herbs. I have twelve herbs but they really don’t count since they aren’t planted in the “garden.” Ok, those numbers don’t really read self-control but whatevs.
My main goal this year was to learn more about tomatoes so that next year I can start them from seed and really be on top of my tomato game. So, I planted my tomatoes and THEN started my research. The list of tomatoes I planted in my garden is below.
Roma Tomato (D)
Arkansas Traveler Heirloom Tomato (I)
Chocolate Sprinkled Tomato (I)
Cherokee Purple Heirloom Tomato (I)
Grape Tomato (I)
Indigo Rose Tomato (I)
Husky Cherry Tomato (I)
Pink Brandywine Heirloom Tomato (I)
Sun Gold Tomato (I)
If you have noticed the “D” and “I” after each of the tomato names, I’ll get to that. Apparently, it’s kind of important…
To start my research, I did as any intelligent millennial would do and I went to social media! I asked to join GROUPS. ALL. THE. GROUPS: gardening groups, tomato groups, edible plants groups, mushroom groups, and homesteading groups. Basically, any group that may give me the upper hand on fighting the ‘death and non-production’ monster this year! I found one tomato group that I love that is simply named, “Growing Tomatoes” on Facebook. It has over nineteen thousand members that live all over the world. Please go join this group if you have questions about any step of the tomato growing process. These people are great and a lot of them are beginners like me! First thing I learned was about the dreaded hornworm and how to organically combat the little devil with a cayenne pepper spray. I had a few cayenne peppers already so I pulled them off, diced them up, got a spray bottle, filled it with water, added the diced cayenne peppers, onion, garlic, mint and lemon balm oil, and let it bake in the sun for a week. It put my little mind at ease so I was set… so I thought… The next week or so I noticed that there were spiders, some type of bug eggs, and ants all over the garden. So, I gave up on the organic route and bought some Sevin Dust. Now that stuff works! As far as I am concerned, so far, I have the pests at bay. (I learned later, LATER being now when writing this, that I missed an important ingredient in the homemade solution; SOAP)
ORGANIC PEST CONTROL GARDEN SPRAY RECIPE
(Recipe Instructions HERE)
1 Medium Onion (chopped)
4 Cloves of Garlic
20 Drops Peppermint Essential Oil
5 Cayenne peppers
2 Tablespoons Baby Shampoo (per gallon of water)
1 Gallon of Water
When I was at our Fourth of July celebration, I overheard a family member mentioning something about planting *ROMA* tomatoes again for the fall. Which made me panic because here we are in July and I haven’t planned for a second crop! So, then I start looking at places to purchase tomato seeds.
On the Googs Machine, I found the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory equivalent to tomato seeds stores, www.tomatofest.com. There, I learned there are HUNDREDS, I repeat, HUNDREDS of kinds and more importantly COLORS of tomato plants. (Que Pokémon theme song again.) After buying eighteen, yes you read that right, different varieties, I was prepared to start a few little seedlings and ready for the FALL CROP! After buying, I decided to do a little research on the types of tomatoes I bought. If you are noticing a trend that my follow through is always ahead of my research stage, you are not alone. I noticed that on each of the descriptions of the tomato plants they were marking them as Determinate and Indeterminate. See, I told you that I would get back to that. What I figured out was when a tomato plant is considered determinate, it means it stops growing once the top bud produces a fruit and the plant is DONEZO! Indeterminate is the opposite and basically it continues to produce all season long. My family member is replanting for the fall because she only planted ROMA tomatoes which, if you look at my list again, is determinate. So, what that means is that I didn’t need those new eighteen tomato seed packets I hastily ordered.
With my new-found knowledge, I decided that I would store the new seeds for next year and try starting tomato plants from seeds in the spring. Here are a few of the stock photos for my new seeds and something to look forward to!
Thank for reading, Loveys
Blue Berry Tomato (I)
Super Snow-White Tomato (I)
Anas Noire Tomato (I)