Growing your own vegetables can be quite a challenge, at least for me it can. I’ve tried several times in the past and have failed miserably. True, I have challenges like my cat eating the sprouts or not really having the right amount of space, but those things shouldn’t result in scrawny, dried out plants. I had come to determine that I just had a black thumb. It seemed that every plant that I came into contact with died. I just didn’t understand. I had spent much of my childhood in the garden, playing in rich black soil, helping my grandma plant and care for beautiful plants. Clearly undeterred by such failure, I continued to try. I tried basil, parsley, tomatoes, beans; whatever I could get my hands on. Each time the result was a pot full of dirt with dead roots. A few months ago I decided to try my luck (again) at growing some of my own produce. I had tomatoes on my mind, so tomatoes it would be.
A friend had advised me to buy a tomato plant that was already established and healthy. So I did. It already had about a dozen blooms on it so I figured I was well on my way to enjoying delicious, succulent home-grown tomatoes. I had strict instructions to give it lots of water and lots of sun. Okay perfect, if I can’t over water it, then I’m safe! I also have a big rooftop that gets lots of sun. I had this in the bag. There was no way I wouldn’t have lots of tomatoes. Then, about a week or two into my tomato growing, the leaves of the plant started turning brown, drying out and falling off. I was heartbroken. Whatever it was, be it fungus or the oils in my skin, it was taking over. It started at the bottom and day by day worked itself up the plant. There were however, eight tiny little tomatoes on the plant, but I feared the worst. I just knew my black thumb would take the life of my beautiful tomato plant. I frantically asked around. I asked everyone I knew that knew anything about plants how I could fix it. I even called my grandma in Florida in hopes of a secret potion (my grandma can grow anything). And as she told me about her tomato plant, how it had so many tomatoes she couldn’t eat them all, I secretly cried inside, knowing I didn’t receive the family gift.
As I fretted over my dying tomato plant and celebrated over the eight little tomatoes that were still growing, I decided to what lots of other people do. I bought some Miracle Grow. Now I know that this wasn’t the right thing to do, but I was desperate. A good home gardener would have looked for an organic alternative, something chemical free and natural (which I am now in the process of doing).
At this point I am happy to announce that not only is my tomato plant doing much better, but I also enjoyed all eight of those delicious little home-grown tomatoes.
There is no moral to this story, but there are certainly some take aways that this amateur gardener can share. So here are a few tips, some gathered from friends, some experienced first hand, all good.
- Buy a tomato plant that is already established – something at least ten inches tall, very leafy and with a few flowers if you can find one.
- Tie it to something, be it a fence, another pot or whatever will help prevent it from falling over.
- Give it lots of water – I gave mine about a half-gallon of water per day.
Water it in the early morning or late evening, not during the hottest part of the day.
- You can spritz the leaves with water, but again, not during the heat of the day.
- Yes, do talk to your plants. It really seems to help.
- Feel free to use a fertilizing product, but go for the natural one.
- Don’t stress too much, sometimes bad things happen to good plants. Like fungus. And sometimes a bad fungus is much stronger than a good gardener.
- Although you do want to let the tomatoes ripen on the plant as much as possible, you don’t want to leave them too long or they will not be as delicious and fresh tasting.