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Gardening
onsafari

09 lessons – How to fail at tomatoes

The biggest lesson this year was around tomatos. I did so many things wrong, it’s almost impossible to count them. Nearly every step along the way, I made a mistake. Most were recoverable, but it meant that we ended up with a crop of about a dozen tomatos from 16 plants. This is a miserable failure, but still cheaper than buying them at the store.

For next year, I will be trying the following:

  1. Use grow lights for the seedlings. The sun here in the early months of spring just doesn’t cut it.
  2. Harden the tomatoes in the unattached garage. I skipped this step, or shortened it too much. The plants were frost-burned in their first week, but recovered.
  3. Buy cages. Even the bush tomatoes need cages. They fell all over the ground, leaving the fruit in easy reach of the slugs.
  4. Water with an automated system. The ad-hoc watering I did meant that the fruit cracked. Not pretty, but still edible.
  5. Be around for the end of the season. This year, we went on vacation. But then, I expected the fruit to ripen before we were scheduled to go. I was only a month off. Ha!
  6. Force the fruit to ripen. If I do this one plant at a time, I should be able to handle the amount of fruit. Then again, it takes 3 pounds of fruit to start a sauce, so all at once would be fine. Better than expecting the fruit to ripen on its own.
  7. Be prepared for green tomatoes with recipes. Try some recipes out before the last minute so they can be ready to go.

I must remember to consult this list in the spring so that I get it right next year. Fresh tomatoes are too spectacular to let them go to waste.

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.


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We grew three plants and were able to enjoy each ripe tomato we got - but we had such a late start to the growing season (weather was crap) that we didn't end up with too many tomatoes. Sad, but true.

Our season is also remarkably late and short. So frustrating. Nothing is better than fresh tomatoes.

What is forced ripening? How'd you do it?

There are a couple of ways - it's mostly traumatizing the plant so the fruit ripen. You can cut the roots, clip off branches or just bend them down until they don't push nutrients any more. They do the same thing to strawberries in CA, except there they use a blowtorch.

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