Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Tomato crazed (or My Ode to Tomatoes)

Maybe I've gone a little overboard with tomatoes in 2011. But with good reason. I adore the fruit and would give anything to grow it well.

Last year I messed up my timing twice.

First mistake: I planted too late -- the end of March. My 2 poor vines (that I unwisely placed in the same large pot) only provided me with a handful of semi-decent tomatoes before the scorching 100-plus-degree desert summer stopped the fruit from setting and weakened them to a point where the bugs just took over. If you're keeping track, that's 0 for 2.

Second mistake: I planted 3 new tomatoes -- but too late again, in mid-October. These poor vines caught some weird disease, and then sadly provided only 2 tomatoes (that took weeks to ripen in a paper bag) before getting leveled by frost over Thanksgiving. Total 2010 Score: a pitiful 0 for 5.

So this year, with my 2010 shutout in mind and some newly acquired knowledge under my belt, I am determinate (a little tomato humor there) to raise a bumper crop of beautiful tomatoes.

I have 3 varieties in my condo raised bed (CRiB), 5 varieties in containers on my upstairs balcony and 1 variety in a container by my front door. NINE kinds: Heatwave II, Black Cherry, Jubilee; Early Girl, Better Boy, Black Zebra, Green Zebra, Yellow Pear; and Siberia.
Yes, I know, I haven't planted any in my original raised bed (ORB). Probably won't. Logic dictates that the ORB's distance from my home means it should be left to species that don't need so much attention (lettuce, peas, onions, carrots, broccoli).

Planting was in late January and mid-February. I've got until early June, really, to fulfill my "Mission: Tomato." I'm going to set the bar low and call it a win if I can get 15 tomatoes from each plant.

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