Archive for Monday, September 15, 2014

Beal: When it comes to tomatoes, never too much of a good thing

September 15, 2014

I am the most fortunate of men. I have the two things that, according to the song, money cannot buy: true love and home-grown tomatoes.

For several years now, I’ve tried to grow tomatoes in planters on the deck out back. It has been, at least until this year, an exercise in continuing frustration.

The first two or three years I tried using the hanging planters, with precious little result. Then I got several plastic boxes of maybe 10 to 15 gallons in capacity and filled them with potting mix.

The results were better, but only slightly. A growth in production from one tomato to two tomatoes may be a 100 percent hike but it’s still only an increase of one tomato.

One year I had blossom-end rot; another year I fought a losing battle with cutworms. Each year, we got a few paltry fruits, but hardly enough to be considered a crop. When it was so hot two summers ago, I had beautiful, luscious vines — but, alas, no tomatoes.

Thankfully, this year has been the exception to the rule. I set the plants out in April or May and watched them for weeks. It was a cool spring, so they didn’t grow much at first. Then, finally, we began to see little fruits growing on the vines in some abundance.

Things were looking up, but we had planned to be gone a couple of weeks in July and it looked as if they were not going to ripen until we’d gone. As it happened we did eat two or three tomatoes before we left; all the time we were gone I worried what I would find when we returned.

As it turned out I needn’t have worried. We had my sister look after the place while we were gone; she stopped by every few days to check on the cat and see to the harvest. I told her to help herself to the tomatoes and she did, but there was still a colander full of cherry tomatoes in the refrigerator and a pile on the counter.

Those first few weeks we ate tomatoes until we had blisters on our mouths. We made pizza sauce and salsa. About a month ago the harvest sort of tapered off a little. We’ve continued to have enough for salads and sandwiches and such.

But now, judging by the immature fruits on the vines it looks as if we’re going to have another bonanza. You can’t have too much of a good thing, after all.

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