At least with a toddler they chuck a tantrum, they cry, they whinge - you know SOMETHING is wrong. Tomatoes just pout...silently! One minute they seem to be going great guns - super lush + healthy looking - and the next minute they've got caterpillars crawling out of their insides whilst the fruit rots from the bottom up!!! What's wrong little tomato? Too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too sunny, not sunny enough, you need a drink/food, you've got worms, what's that white stuff on your leaves, oooh lordy - what are those flying white things all over your leaves? WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!
Yep, so growing tomatoes is NOT easy...not easy at all. I was feeling quite smug about my gardening prowess til now as most of my plants had done "OK". Growing tomatoes sure brought me back to earth and burst that big smug gardening-goddess view I was starting to have of myself.
Things were going quite "OK" with my tomatoes - they'd developed loads of beautiful yellow blossoms which turned into promising looking fruit. I'd be out there everyday watering, looking...watering some more.
One day I noticed that one of my tomatoes had a squishy bottom. And then I gradually noticed ALL of my tomatoes had squishy bottoms. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. It was horrifying and heartbreaking!
As if this wasn't bad enough I then saw masses of budworms (a fancy name for tomato loving caterpillars) in my tomatoes.
I'd been told by a tomato growing Facebook friend that I needed to remove all the blossoms, all the fruit and prune back my plants. I'd let things get too "bushy" which was part of my problem. My friend didn't really give any advice on "how" to prune so I really went to town on those poor plants...as you can see! That'll teach them for betraying me and getting worms AND blossom end rot. Hurmph.
Miraculously the plants actually grew back - a big "f-you" to me for my bad hair cutting skills! I was super vigilant this time making sure I watered consistently, not too much mind you - but enough to make sure the soil didn't dry out. Daily I peered at each and every tomato checking for budworms + caterpillars and blossom end rot. I've found a lot of caterpillar droppings, but no creepy crawlies anywhere on the plants - odd, but I'm willing to go with it.
It wasn't long before one (just ONE at this stage mind you) of my Tiny Tim tomatoes start to turn red, a slight blush at first and then a full-on bright red. There was plenty of fruit on the plant but at this stage they all stayed stubbornly green.
You cannot really do too much with just one little tomato, but it's enough to use in one of my favourite breakfasts - tomato on buttered toast with a pinch of rock salt + cracked pepper. Perfect. And that little tomato, that I ate within minutes of plucking off the vine, tasted like a "real" tomato - so much more flavour than the supermarket variety.
You can view more Harvest Monday posts on Daphne's Dandelions blog.