I think I’ll buy my veges, thanks

6 02 2012

Over the several decades I’ve lived on this earth, I’ve attempted to grow veges a number of times. But it’s always ended in disaster of some sort — too much or too little water, bugs that want to thwart my every attempt, a degree in chemistry required to get the soil balance right, the cost of the seedlings, fertilisers, insecticides (whether natural or not), etc. And the time to handwater the plants, stake/tie them up, pull off the dead leaves, talk to them nicely, etc. I’ve tried. I really have. But I’ve think I’ve given this vege growing lark my last effort.

I’m just not cut out to grow veges. Even the simple ones. Like tomatoes. Hell, tomato plants will sprout even where someone has thrown down the remnants of a half-eaten sandwich. But they won’t grow for me.

Last year — about August or September — I bought a punnet of eight little tomato seedlings for the princely sum of $3. I got home all excited. I made little removable collars for them from old plastic water bottles as the last lot of tomato seedlings I tried got eaten by slaters or something nibbling at the base thus causing them to fall over and snap off. Dead. Not this time. This time it would be different. This time, I’d protect my little tomato plants and watch over them and water them and talk to them. And I did.

The collars were very successful and soon I had nice thriving tomato plants. So thriving that they were lying prostrate on the ground. Off to the hardware store to get some stakes. Twenty, one-metre stakes should be enough for eight little plants, surely? I tied the tomatoes to the stakes very gently, but I used twist ties, so after I saw one tie had killed off a branch because the twist tie had cut into it, I took all the ties off and tore up scrap fabric into inch-wide strips. I gently re-tied the plants, and added more stakes as they were putting out all sorts of branches that needed supporting.

I applied Wettasoil to the soil to help retain water near the roots, and I watered them every second day (walking several times to and from the nearest tap with a watering can), and more often in hot weather. They were out of the wind in a sheltered area, but got full sun for quite a bit of the day. They were looking good!

Then one day I noticed that some of the under leaves were dying off. Oh no! I’d cut out something about troubleshooting tomato issues from the newspaper a while back, and was able to identify the problem. The solution was to apply some tomato dust (what is this stuff? pixie dust?) to the plants. I did that and they seemed to come good again and had some nice new green growth.

Still they kept growing and I eventually used up all my 20 stakes and more strips of fabric to tie them up. I even saw some flowers on them. So all was looking good. I can do this! I can grow tomatoes! Summer was coming and I was SO looking forward to rich, dense, sweet tomatoes from my own garden.

Summer came… summer came some more… and more… and nothing. No tomatoes. Just leaves. Lots of leaves and branches and some flowers, but no tomatoes. Then I spotted a tiny little green fruit! My first tomato!! Then I spotted another one — that’s two! After another week, I spotted a third. But that was it. No more. Three pathetic little green fruits from EIGHT plants!

Summer continued on and I continued watering my tomatoes every second day (or every day when it was very hot). And those three little tomatoes stayed green… and small. I had no idea when they were meant to fruit but I knew I’d planted them at least 4 months ago. Surely they should have fruited by now?

Then we had a really hot spell. And guess what? Those three little tomatoes went from green to a mottled orange and basically cooked inside their skins. They sure don’t look very edible. And they only got to about 4 cm (1.5 inches) diameter too, even though they are a full variety, not a cherry/grape tomato variety.

So, after spending money on Wettasoil, stakes and pixie dust, as well as the eight seedlings, and putting in effort to water them by hand, after five months I’m ‘rewarded’ with three inedible tomatoes. Three. From eight plants.

I can buy a kilo of tomatoes at the farmers market for around $6. Sure, they won’t taste as good as the ones you grow yourself, but in my case that’s a crock — ANYTHING would taste better than these pathetic tomatoes I’ve grown.

I give up.

The best tomato I could grow

The 'biggest and best' tomato I could grow (about 4 cm -- 1.5 inches -- in diameter)



One response

6 02 2012

Not quite sure what to say …. We gave ours lots of manure, and lot of water – and got heaps – Last year. This year I was told NOT to get any plants as it took too much time to water them…so we have a lkarge vegie garden – and no vegies at all! And of course – I am too busy sewing and I HATE the heat 🙂

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