Even people who claim they don’t garden probably grow at least one or two tomato plants.The reason is simple: taste. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, as delicious as a fresh tomato plucked from the garden. The juicy ripeness of it, the sweetly acidic tang. Pair it on a sandwich with mayonnaise. Eat it fresh with basil and mozzarella. Tomatoes are the taste of summer.
But they can be finicky! I never had a problem growing tomatoes until I moved to Virginia. On Long Island, tomatoes were a staple of every backyard garden. Almost everyone I knew grew at least a few plants on their back decks or kept a few plants in the garden. Stake them up, pinch them back, fertilize them and voila – tomatoes.
T Is for Tomato: Blogging A to Z Challenge
In my Virginia garden, the first year all of my tomatoes had blossom end rot. If you’ve never seen blossom end rot, it’s easy to recognize. The tomatoes begin growing normally, then the end turns flat and black. The tomatoes don’t taste right. Most just die. It’s so sad…all that work, and lousy tomatoes!
My friend Liz from the Master Gardeners suggested it might be a pH or a calcium problem in the soil. I tested the soil, realized the pH was way too low, and added lime. Sure enough, the next year only the first few tomatoes had blossom end rot…then success. Tomatoes! Every year, we add a little lime to the soil, a ton of composed cow manure, and every year, the tomatoes grow better and better.
There are so many guides online to growing tomatoes that for me to write my own seemed rather silly. Below are links to some of the better tomato growing resources. Here at Seven Oaks, I grow Early Girl, Beefmaster, Sonic and any other interesting large-fruit varieties for salads and sandwiches. I also grow Sweet Million cherry tomatoes because we love to snack on them and eat them in salads. Excess tomatoes are blanched and frozen, then used in the wintertime in chili, soups, stews and sauces. But it’s rare that we have extras; most tomatoes are eaten as quickly as I pick them around here.
I hope you decide to grow tomatoes this year. They’re one of the joys of a home garden.