Monday, October 13, 2008

Tomato season is almost over...but it was great!

This is October 13 and it's still warm during the day. The leaves are starting to fall here in Middle Tennessee but we haven't had a cold snap yet. I planted four tomato plants this growing season. One in the ground in our patio garden and three in big pots. The three in pots didn't grow at all, but the Early Girl I planted in the ground took over the entire plot, about 4 yards by 1 yard.

We've had just enough ripe tomatoes for a salad everyday since July. My husband Jimmy makes them with romaine, celery, carrots, radishes, cabbage, green peppers and tomatoes. Recently he has started adding fresh turnips, peeled and sliced. He makes the salad on a dinner plate and we divide it for our evening meal. Our tomatoes have been small or medium, never large, but always firm and juicy. Always delicious.

We still have some green ones on the vine and lots of yellow blossoms which probably won't fruit. I'll leave the plant go until the first frost. The night before I'll bring in the green tomatoes and let them ripen inside. Or maybe I'll cook 'em. I really feel bad about the potted tomato plants which included a Roma and cherry tomato. I think the soil was bad; it was mostly purchased top soil. Who knows what goes into those bags. The dirt is always black as oil.

I also planted several pepper plants none of which flourished. My jalapeno pepper plant produced two peppers. The rest just wilted and wilted. I researched this problem online and learned that pepper plants are often infected with a virus or other disease in nurseries. I could have returned them but had misplaced my receipt.

Despite my failures this summer, I think we saved enough money on tomatoes to cover my investment in plants. I used no garden fertilizer or insecticide, just watered the plants during the dry spells. I also saved two buckets of water each time I took a bath for the garden. I always add epsom salt to my baths and plants like it. My husband is not too happy about this bath water stuff. Our tub is upstairs and he's afraid I'll drop a bucket or something. It would be great if we could send our bath water (gray water) directly to the garden via the plumbing. I know this is being done but having researched the logistics of doing it here.

We all need to learn how to grow our some of our own food. And we also need to learn how to conserve water. My father's family had a rough time during the Depression but they gardened.
I guess that's how Daddy learned to eat peanut butter and tomato sandwiches: protein plus vitamin C! He taught Mama and us kids to eat them, too. We loved them.