Category Archives: Tomatoes

March 19: New Sprouts!

We’re back from Santa Fe. The daffodils are looking great.

And the tomatoes and peppers have sprouted!


Garden Update

A bad summer cold has kept me out of the garden this week. But things are really growing! I felt slightly better today and took some photos. If only my sore throat would go away so I could start eating real food. Each day there is more and more to pick. The above cabbage looks ready for harvesting.

Tomato ForestThe tomato plants are finally making tomatoes.

These are either Ananas Noire or Black Elephant.

Rotten Tomato
Two have blossom end rot!  I’ve read that it may be due to a calcium deficiency. Also infrequent watering, which I am definitely guilty of this week. I must find a cure.

The beets were a real disappointment. Maybe it was too hot? I pulled them out of the ground since their leaves were starting to shrivel and brown. I think I’ll plant another batch for fall.

The Cayenne peppers are doing great – except the leaves on some of the plants are a little yellow. According to this forum on Garden Web, it might mean that they’re getting too much water.

String Beans
I have string beans! Purple and green. Some are nearly 6 inches long.

Atomic Purple CarrotHere is a baby Atomic Purple carrot. I couldn’t resist pulling it out to take a peak. My throat can only handle ice pops and chicken soup right now, so I gave it to my boyfriend and he reported back that it’s delicious.

Sugar Baby WatermelonThis is a tiny Sugar Baby Watermelon. The vines are growing 4-5 inches a day and have already reached the top of our trellises.

And here is my giant cucumber. I have a few others that have started to grow, but this one is by far the largest. Like the melon vines, the cucumbers have already climbed over the trellises and are starting to work their way across to the other side.

BeesThe bees are definitely to thank for all of this melon-cucumber activity. (Thank you, bees!) I’m no apiologist, but I think I’ve spotted at least four different species buzzing around.

Killer Kale & Rogue Tomatoes

Ridgewood Queens GardenIt was a lovely weekend to be in the garden. We made some progress on our trellises. (Actually, my boyfriend made some progress on our trellises while I danced around and pestered him.) They should be ready to install tomorrow, which is good because my cucumbers are really sprawling.

Tuscan Black KaleWith no other major projects, I was able to focus on weeding, fertilizing and harvesting. Tonight we are going to eat this gigantic head of kale.

AffenpinschersMy two little garden helpers were also out and about. Harry and Lucy – our Affenpinchers (aka “The Beasts”) – love to trample through the flowers and dig in the dirt.

Rogue TomatoesAnd while doing my rounds today, I noticed at least five new rogue tomato plants that have grown from seeds left over in the worm castings taken from our vermicompost bin.

Rogue Tomatoes
I used the castings to fertilize the soil where I planted some flowers, and I thought the tomatoes were just another variety of marigold until today. But there is no denying it – they are definitely tomatoes. And now that they’re over a foot tall, I don’t have the heart to yank them out.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll outperform my giant tomato trees in the back planters. They’ll be getting a lot of help from the marigolds (a companion plant to tomatoes) a few inches away. I’m also really curious to see what kind of fruit we get.

Finally, some tomatoes

Green TomatoesI think I have a break in the case of the non-producing tomato plants. Actually, more like a promising lead. The mystery is not solved, but I may be a little closer to understanding why I am not getting the crop I hoped for.

Green TomatoesWhile the twelve tomato plants in the planter at the back of the yard are still totally fruitless, the eight plants in POTS near the front of the yard have started to produce.

Tomatoes in Pots
(Back story: The 20+ tomato seeds I sowed indoors in February grew into 20 hearty plants. I offered a few to family and friends, but people were slow to claim them (or maybe didn’t want them!), and all of a sudden I had my very own tomato orchard. The majority went into a 3 x 4′ planter, and the rest are in 5 gallon pots.)

Green TomatoThe tomatoes in pots are the same mix of varieties as those growing in the planters. They are also in the same soil and are watered on the same schedule. I wonder, though, if having less space to develop long roots has encouraged the plants in the pots to put more energy into fruit-making. This, of course, is pure speculation…but it’s the only reason I can think of that could account for the difference.

As for the plants in the planters, I intend to fertilize them this weekend, and I might also prune them a bit, and maybe soon they’ll be as fruitful as their potted cousins.

Photo: Mark Bittman/The New York Times

Side note (while I’m on the topic of tomatoes): Mark Bittman has a really interesting and eye-opening column in this week’s NYT about industrial tomato farming. It’s actually a follow-up to a piece he wrote last month on the book Tomatoland, by Barry Estabrook, which chronicles the rise of the tomato in the modern world and the deleterious effects that the mass production of this fruit has had on the environment, our food supply, and – most notably – tomato workers.

While I knew that most of the tomatoes sold in stores today are picked green and then gassed with ethylene to promote the ripening process, the image above really drove home the wastefulness of this system. After the green fruit is harvested, the plants are killed to make room for the next crop, and any tomatoes that ripened naturally on the vine are “left to rot,” writes Bittman.

It just seems like big price to pay for a product that we don’t really need all year round. I’d rather have no tomatoes at all than the tasteless, mealy lumps available at most grocery stores.