Thursday, July 7, 2011

Full Metal Jacket

We staked our tomatoes when we transplanted them this Spring using limbs from the Bradford Pear we cut down.  Most of the limbs were in the 5-6 foot range.  This has worked out pretty well until this past week.

The tomatoes are in full fruit.  So they are extremely heavy right now.  (Expect some posts about my first attempt canning tomatoes soon.)  Add to that the fact that we've had nightly thunderstorms this week and at least 4-5 inches of rain so far.  The back yard is actually "puddling" right now.  With high winds and soft ground the stakes came right up.

The tomatoes fell on top of each other.  Fortunately they didn't snap.  SM went out and bought some of those heavy metal "T-Bars" and placed them strategically and we used some twine to try and keep them up and give them some support. 

Some are still laying on the ground.  I'm letting them be.

Jane, over at Hard Work Homestead, posted about her thoughts on her experiments on growing tomatoes.  Now you might think growing tomatoes is a snap.  Ha.  I'm coming to learn that nothing related to growing your own food is as easy as you might think.  I've often thought "What the heck am I doing" but I refuse to give up.  I mean, 100 years ago people survived on a lot less than what we have today.  Why can't I grow a freaking tomato?  Whats all the fuss about?

The "fuss" is what Jane (and I) are fussing about.  Got blight? Early, Late?  No fruit?  Is it possible we've fussed our plants into an early tomato demise?

I have a co-worker who has a degree in agriculture.  I never knew.  We started talking about my SVB infestation (I lost all of my squashes and pumpkins to the little bastards) from a few weeks ago.  She'd never experienced it.  Hello?  I can't be the only one on the planet who doesn't have zucchini coming out of her....Ummm.  OK...Back on track. 

Anyway, we started talking about tomatoes and one thing led to another and "What?  You don't prune?  Oh Tami...You need to trim all those branches away.  You'll get more fruit!"

"Well, I didn't mulch as good as I could have and I'm worried about Early Blight so I did trim off the lower branches that were turning yellow."

"You really should get out there and prune them way back."

"No.  I did that last year and everything failed.  I think I'm going to let Mother Nature do her thing.  They're fruiting up pretty good.  Maybe not as much as they could but the plants seem pretty healthy."  (I swear I could see her shaking her head at my ignorance.)  Maybe I'm delusional?  Insane?

Where's my full metal jacket? 

I'm beginning to believe that all the "fussing" we do as modern, intelligent gardeners is messing up the natural order of things.  I mean, maybe a tomato plant is only supposed to put out so much fruit.  Maybe all "pruning" we do actually hurts the plant and makes them more vulnerable to disease.  Reading all the comments to Jane's post makes me realize I'm not the only one who thinks so.

On another note...I did spend this morning dropping off tomatoes and cucumbers to our immediate neighbors, feeling a bit like Santa Claus in July.  I always try to keep my neighbors supplied with the random tomato, squash or cucumber in an effort to maintain good relations with them.  I've got great neighbors and it's a small price to pay for the "Thanks for keeping your eye on my house while we're gone" or "Can you let the dogs out?" emergencies that crop up.  (Small price to pay IMHO)

They pretty much know I'm crazy already.  (sigh)  Isn't it nice to know where you stand with people?


  1. Do you remember the year your Dad planted orange colored tomatoes, then made spaghette sause & used food coloring to make it red. Then he cooked some goulash and we had pink macaroni with orange tomatoes. What a hoot. We were in NY then so you might now remember that.

  2. We humans always try to think we are smarter than Mother Nature. If that were true we would not have the earth in the mess it's in these days. So you go sister and be a maverick too!

  3. Tami you are right on. My sons and husband (the farmers) are always telling me I'm doing things wrong in the garden...I still get plenty out of it to feed those big boys and I get a lot of joy just watching the garden *do it's own thing*.

  4. I just read Jane's post about this and I agree. My best tomatoes are the "leftovers" from planting that I toss into the compost pile. Never looked at, tended to or in anyway acknowledged. And darn it-the best producers out of the whole garden. Is that telling me something???????

  5. You have been a very sucessful gardener, from what I can tell! I'd say you and Mother Nature are doin' alright for yourselves!

  6. Well if it's true that there is a long road or a short road to the inevitable, which one ya gonna choose? I don't know, I have debated this as well and came up with just let it be. I wish there was a magic vegetable that could be planted to ward the blight off or counteract the harm it leaves behind in the soil.

    Hey, are these the neighbors with the new concrete watering hole too? ;)