Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Things that grow - the truth revealed

Remember how excited I was about my bucket garden? OK OK, and maybe I was a little proud.....I can't help it, when I'm creating something beautiful, I get a little proud.

Immediately after planting our beautiful strawberry plants we had some strawberries grow - and they were good. We picked maybe 4-5/day and we thrilled and couldn't wait for when they really "came on".

We're still waiting for that "coming on" business....currently the leaves are brown and look like they've been torched. Do you think our neighbors are scaling the wall and taking a blow-torch to the leaves while we're gone during the day?  Maybe tonight I'll swallow my pride and take a picture to show you just how sad they are. But this post is about my tomatoes.

We saw our tomatoes growing and had a little party for the first green one. And by "had a little party" I mean "opened the fridge and ate big beautiful store-bought tomato thinking about the day I'd have a fresh tomato from my very own plant".

The tomato and squash plants get droopy every day, so we water them (a lot) every day and we worry that they are getting too much sun and not enough water (or too much water and not enough sun....but when they look burned and droopy and the soil is dry we tend to think not enough water, too much sun), but all those worries floated away when Josh brought this beauty in from the garden yesterday.

Ain't she purty?
Awww...but don't be too quick to judge - the beauty of this tomato is really just evidence of my incredible photography skills. 
You wanna see the ugly truth?

I know what you're thinking: "My goodness she has a lovely thumb!" but try to look past that and focus on the tomato, which is the subject of this post.
Something is horribly horribly wrong and to be honest, I haven't the slightest idea what it is. Of course my first inclination is to call it a fluke (because I'm a tolerator and I tolerate.) but science (and the fact that Josh brought in 3 more just like it last night) is forcing me to evaluate.
Could it be the big stinky truck that drives through our neighborhood each night spraying for mosquitoes?  Or perhaps the fact that I live in the middle of an industrial park and am surrounded by refineries.  Maybe it's the lack of sun, the bucket it too small, I'm not giving the plants enough love and attention, they're too thirsty to grow?
Clearly this is not a phase a tomato can "grow out of" it's ugliness is permanent and will spread to the others if we allow it. The rotting bottom is evidence of.....I don't know what, but it certainly ain't purty.
This much I know is true: I am capable of growing a garden all by myself. I've done it before. Remember the cucumbers from 2 years ago? That was a great year, we couldn't even keep up with all the things that grew. We constantly had fresh produce rotting on our counter because we couldn't eat it fast enough.  I know it does't sound pleasant, but it was.
Somehow this year's efforts are not as fruitful. Which means that my mom (who I love) is going to have a lot more "help" using the harvest from her garden this year. 
Also it reminds us why sometimes it's not a great idea to "buy local" cuz sometimes local isn't better. (see photographic evidence above)


  1. Your tomato is so beautiful from the top, good photography skills! I looked up your tomato condition on the internet for you since all I do all day is sit around . . . waiting. Your tomatoes are sick with blossom end rot. That means the aren't getting enough calcium, which apparently is sometimes caused by severe water fluctuations (ie. your neighbors torch them and then you revitalize them). The all knowing internet says using mulches or putting more calcium in the soil may help your tomatosteoperosis. Or you could just take away your neighbors blow torch.

  2. I think the teacher man talked about that in his class. It's something that happens to tomatoes but I can't remember why....I'll see if I can look it up and get back to you.

  3. Have you tried singing to them??
    Just kidding! Seriously, my tomato plants are big and green and bushy, but there isn't even a tiny, little green tomato to be found growing ANYWHERE on them! Where are the tomatoes???

  4. Wendy - Thanks for the info, maybe if I crush up calcium pills and put them in the water....? AND take away the blow torch? Just sayin'....I'd better get a good tomato out of this plant or someone's gonna be sorry! :)

    Marianne - Glad to know it's not just me. However, I'm sure yours will come. If your plant looks healthy I'm sure it will bear fruit. *sigh*

  5. Tomato tips from E. Gordon Wells Jr.

    "...blossom-end rot which is a black or tan discoloration at the blosssom end of the fruit which enlarges, darkens and becomes sunken and leather as the tomato begins to ripen. This often happens with the first few tomatoes from your tomato patch. If it continues, it means that you are either not watering thoroughly enough or not watering frequently enough."

    (My guess is thoroughly enough because he recommends watering only 1/week or 1 every 2weeks. Another problem could be that your soil isn't holding the water...fix it okay?)

    Marianne's problem could be too much nitrogen fertilizer or too much water. From the book: "The mistake most commonly made by home gardeners in growing tomatoes is to water them too frequently. With too much nitrogen fertilizer and too much water you will grow a beautiful gigantic tomato plant with no tomatoes. The plant should not be a lush, light green color. If properly watered, the plant will be extremely dark green and have a stocky, heavy vine."

  6. Woah...I was gonna be all cool and tell you what was wrong....sad. They are right, it is blossom end rot, and they are right with the causes. I don't know the conditions of which your tomoatoes are growing in, so I can't tell you if it's your fault or the weather's ;) But we've had a lot of customers with the same problem this year, so my guess is the weather had a big part to play in it. It was really wet and inconsistent this year. And then all of the sudden it got WAY hot...none of those things help.

    If you have any other questions, you know many ways of getting ahold of me....so ask away :)


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