Thursday, June 7, 2012

Live and Let Grow

For the past two years we lived in an apartment with an itsy bitsy balcony that got no direct sunlight. The first summer we lived there, I was determined to have a container garden. My one tomato plant grew to about 8" tall, sprouted on green tomato, then promptly died. As did my aspirations for apartment-living gardening.

This year we moved into a full-fledged house with HUGE backyard, plenty of sunlight included. I went wild. I plotted out about 20x20 feet of garden, roto-tilled it and started a compost bucket. Then, very abruptly, I was lost. I grew up with a Mom who didn't just have a green thumb, she was green to the shoulder! Unfortunately, all the while I could have been LEARNING, I had much better things to do. Like sit inside in the A/C, chain-read books and watch Dirty Dancing a hundred times in a row. So now, without my Mom to lean on, I am lost!

One corner of my garden.

Slow but sure I am learning the ways of the garden master. Fresh vegetables and herbs are way to much of a temptation not to! I will succeed!

Lime-sized baby watermelon!

So far, the most important tid-bit I've come across regards the Holy Grail of the Garden - tomatoes.

Oh yes, the homegrown tomato.

How I love thee.

Tomato sandwiches, fresh tomato sauce, tomato soup, homemade salsa, homemade ketchup, straight off the vine... I could go on. There is nothing. NOTHING. Like a homegrown tomato. They may as well be a totally different species than the storebought variety.

I had a dilemma though. I want tomatoes, in bulk, now! But I also want tomatoes, whenever I want them, throughout the rest of the summer. What to do? Lightbulb moment.

My first red tomato! I'm eyeing it like a hawk until it's fully ripe!

Tomato vines come in two varieties: Determinate and Indeterminate. It sounds complex, but it's not. It's written on the tomato pot label at the store ;)

Determinate Tomatoes: These vines have LOTS of tomatoes, but all at once. Perfect for canning or otherwise preserving them. Unfortunately, they just come in one spurt and then are pretty much done. No bueno for the casual tomato snacker. Enter the...

Indeterminate Tomatoes: Think of these as more of "wild variety" tomatoes. They do as they please! The get BIG. You will need the biggest tomato cages for these (and yes, tomato cages ARE necessary. $2 at Home Depot.) Their tomatoes grow randomly throughout the season so you may have one or two ripe a day until the first frost.

Plant a variety of each tomato type and your Homegrown Tomato needs to will fulfilled.

Look forward to many, many tomato recipes to come! And please post any of yours in the comments, I'm always happy to find new ones!


  1. Whoop! Whoop! Thanks for the info. My youngest son is obsessed with growing things and chose a tomato plant for his first real project. I will have to look into the different varieties to help him with his veggie intake throughout the year. Muy bueno!!!

  2. Cucumbers are great too! Mine are taking zero effort to grow. I'm looking forward to seeing how my watermelons turn out!