Thirty Days in the Garden: Planting Tomatoes

I haven’t had much success growing tomatoes these past few years, but I refuse to give up. Fresh garden tomatoes off the vine are a treat.

A basket of assorted tomatoes from 2017

My dad grew tomatoes in our garden in Canada. I grew up eating tomato sandwiches for lunch. In California, people add tomatoes to things like salads and sandwiches, but we enjoyed eating tomatoes as the main event.

When I write or type the word tomato, I can hear my mother pronouncing it tuh-mah-toh. Most Americans use the hard a or tuh-mey-toh. Are you saying it in your head now, too?

A year into the pandemic, my husband Mike, is showing an interest in gardening. Who knew? We headed to the nursery together and diplomatically chose two plants each. I frequently buy the brand Bonnie Plants, a company that has been around for over 100 years.

We decided on two cherry tomato plants and two Early Girl. For some reason, the term Early Girl gets on my nerves, but it didn’t stop me from buying the plant. It sounds vaguely patriarchal somehow.

2019: The plants looked healthy, but production was almost non-existent

I have a raised bed in the back garden which has grown a variety of things over the years. I planted geraniums at the end of the summer a few years ago so that Tessa wouldn’t use the raised bed as her personal “litter” box. We eventually transplanted one geranium to a pot, a second one in the front garden, and I think I may have taken the third plant downtown.

2016: Assembling the raised bed, called a VegTrug

With the bed cleared, and the tomatoes planted, I covered the plants with a mesh netting intended to keep out bugs. It won’t be in place for long, as the plants will need to be staked, but I had hoped it would serve as a deterrent while the plants get established.

2021: VegTrug mesh cover

A few days later my son found Tessa sleeping under the mesh canopy. That cat!

The other two plants are in an Earthbox in the front garden in one of the few sunny spots. Earthboxes are all-in-one growing systems, intended for growing vegetables in small spaces. They’re great for moving around. The box has casters, a watering tube, a perforated watering tray, and even comes with a bio-degradable cover. You stuff potting mix into the bottom corners and soak to create a wick of sorts. Then you add potting mix, some lime, and some fertilizer, mix it all together and plant. You can plant seeds or small plants in the box. I’ve used mine for several years.

Now we sit back and wait to see if our plants will produce those delicious red tomatoes of my youth.

12 thoughts on “Thirty Days in the Garden: Planting Tomatoes

  1. Good luck with this year’s tomatoes. When by brother and I were teenagers we would go to the Oval in London to watch the cricket armed with Mum’s tomato sandwiches which were beautifully soggy by lunchtime. I still enjoy tomato sandwiches, preferably not soggy 🙂

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  2. Good Luck with your crop! Jim and I like different varieties too. I’ll generally by Roma, I like the size, no left over to wrap. Jim likes the ones on a vine. I like my firm, he likes his soft. I’ve tried to grow a hanging variety with little success. The leaves and stems got all yellow and brittle. We’ve just finished watching a series with Stanley Tucci. He travels through Italy, sampling regional food. Of course, to-MAT-toes and pasta figured prominently. My favourite way to eat them is on burnt toast, LOL xK

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  3. Given all that careful preparation, it’d be rude not to. I love the taste of oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, quickly frozen from a summer glut to given a taste of summer in the middle of winter.

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  4. Well, good luck this year Alys. 👍 I sowed my tomatoes indoors yesterday and am checking them regularly although it will no doubt take a week or so before they show up! LOL! If they all germinate like last year I will have way too many again! 😉

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  5. Nothing like home grown to(mah)toes (😏). Unfortunately tomato production here was quite poor, as we had a very cool Summer. A few grew on the volunteer plant from the compost, but not much other action. I hope your plants fare better.

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  6. There is nothing like fresh, homegrown tomatoes! I hope you have an abundance this year, Alys. My tomato success record is very up and down. I have my fingers crossed that this year I’ll also be successful. Thanks for sharing your garden photos. I really enjoyed them!

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  7. I’m definitely with your mother on the pronunciation of tomato and now I have that really old song in my head – ‘Let’s call the whole thing off’.

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  8. Debra said the exact words that were rumbling around in my head! There is nothing like fresh, homegrown tomatoes! Store bought have NO flavor. I’d never had one until I was a teenager and lived with my grandparents. My aunt Lucille made toast with butter and sliced toe-may-toes on it with a little salt. I love them to this day. Not a fan of her fried green tomatoes though. Big deal in the Midwest. That and fried okra. I had no idea that geraniums could keep cats out of the planters. I’ll pick some up this week while getting my tomahto plants. 🙂 Thanks for teaching me something new. Have the page for azalea’s open too. So much to learn and do. You are doing great on your 30 day writing marathon.

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