Attack of the giant tomato plants
This year was the year of the tomato plant at my house. I have never had such big, beautiful plants. In fact, every time I opened the back door, it seemed they were getting bigger. Could it be they were trying to get in through the back door? ;-)
I planted about 14 plants this summer--not all of them grew as successfully as my back door buddies though. As I have mentioned before, my vegetable garden has some sort of virus in the soil; tomatoes won't grow there. Last year I tried planting them in a bag of top soil or pots. That didn't work well. The plants were puny and the tomatoes few.
This year I improved upon the plant it in a bag idea and got those large, sturdy contractor bags. I figured the plants needed more soil. I also enhanced their living conditions. In addition to the bag of top soil that I dumped into the contractor bag, I threw in a bag of composted cow manure too. The manure was the key, I think.
Now the plants I put in the veggie garden did do better than last year, but they still didn't thrive. They seemed to pick up the virus symptoms despite my use of the bags. (I think there might be a HG&D lesson there.) The plants might have become infected through the drainage holes I poked in the bottom of the bag or just from the proximity of the plant to the soil itself. It is also more shady where my veg. plot is, that might be a factor too. At any rate, that is it for tomatoes in the vegetable garden--next year I will just stick to beans, herbs, squash, and raspberries there.
But next to the house? Oh my, tomatoes sure like a sunny, warm location! It seemed the tomatoes I planted in the bags did the best. There are actually 5 plants crammed into that stretch by my back door stoop. (Yes, I know that was too close.) Two of the 5 were planted in the ground; the rest were in the bags.
So what accounted for the vigorous plant growth? I am now wondering if it was the back porch light? We leave it on all night. That night light might also account for the prolific plant growth with not-so-hot tomato production. Since tomatoes ripen at night, maybe the plants didn't know it was nighttime? Well, that will be next year's experiment. If they are going to grow so tall, I also need to rig a better tomato tower system. That tomato tree at Disney was truly amazing. Too bad our growing season isn't longer!
I did get some lovely, large tomatoes out of my garden this summer, and they are still coming; it is just never enough for my taste.
New varieties this year were: Yellow Grape, about 1 to 1 1/4 inch in length--very prolific, Hillbilly, a yellow and red stripe type yielding 4" diameter fruits, Pineapple, which was supposed to be red with yellow, but never did too much, Black Krim and Black Knight, two more of those dark tomatoes that failed to meet my standards of taste and productivity.
Out of the new ones, only Yellow Grape makes the cut for next year. I still like Green Zebra, Lemon Boy, Mr. Stripey and Aunt Ruby's German Green the best.
If someone out there has a favorite heirloom red tomato, please share. I could use a red one or two in my fold.
So how did your garden grow this year? What was your best producer? Inquiring gardeners want to know.
Past Posts: Making room for Heirloom Tomatoes!
Heirloom Tomatoes, Everything Old is New Again?