Tomatoes with Everything

I have to admit I am not the best gardener nor am I the most knowledgeable (far from it!) but I do love to garden.  Being able to grow your own food is satisfying on many levels and also lots of fun.

While most of my skill in gardening is on an intuitive level, experience has also taught me a few things. I’ve learned what varieties of tomatoes I like, how easy or difficult they are to grow and I try to grow something new every year. Sometimes it is a great success, sometimes a disaster and occasionally a mystery surprise that never occurs again. But every spring and summer I look forward to lots of fresh veggies and a greatly reduced grocery bill.

For twenty years I have grown vegetables and flowers based on my feelings and own intuition but in the last couple of years my garden hasn’t done well. I really didn’t know why, I had lots of theories, but no real explanation. So, this spring I decided to get some help. My friend Lee O’Hara, has quite a rep as an organic gardener and even has a couple of DVDs on organic gardening. Coincidentally, I ran into Lee while we were both doing work for the same company and we got to talking about gardening. Long story short, I bought his DVDs and watched them.

Now Lee has developed quite a regimen for gardening and while I didn’t do everything he advised in his DVDs I tried to do as much as I could (couldn’t quite figure out the drip system, for example) and I have to say the results were amazing. As you can see in the pics below:



Also because my yield in the previous couple of years was low I went a bit crazy. I planted 18 tomato plants – seven of which were seedlings of my own and eleven nursery plants. Since in my experience I have lost 2-4 plants for various reasons, I assumed that 18 plants would leave me with 12 really hardy plants. Still a lot, but I love tomatoes and so does my room mate.  In my wildest dreams I never would have thought that 17 or the 18 would make it. Thanks to Lee I now have tomatoes with everything.

I have brandywines, Aunt Ginny’s purple tomatoes, Boxcar Willy’s, Marglobe, black cherry tomatoes, St Pierre’s, Homestead 24’s and Fresnos. With the exception of the Fresno’s, all of the tomatoes are heirlooms and I plan to harvest plenty of seeds for future plantings.

I also have the biggest cuke plants and squash plant I’ve ever grown, thanks to Lee’s methods and my cosmos are five feet tall!


So if you ever want to grow monster veggies that are delicious and hardy, check out Lee’s DVDs and his gardening methods. Incredible! Meanwhile, if you’d like to drop by my place for a tomato sandwich, please feel free. There is plenty to go around. Also if you have any killer recipes for tomatoes, please leave them in the comments section, I’ll need lots of ideas and soon!

(By the way, Lee has no idea I am writing about him and this post was not solicited by him in any way – I just like to pass on good info when I come across it.)

So here’s to tomatoes with everything and for a long time to come.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2012

(Are Those) Cherry Tomatoes – or Are You Just Glad to See Me?

Not really sure what is in the soil in Roomie’s backyard but there must be some plutonium because I’ve never seen cherry tomatoes this big, have you? I kid you not, those are cherry tomatoes and yes they are not much smaller than a Trader Joe’s extra large egg. And, the dang thing is like that perpetual wine bottle in The Bishop’s Wife, never-ending and always full.

Right now, I’m waiting for the other tomatoes to come in – I have seven other varities growing – Early Girl, 4 types of heirloom tomatoes, Sweet Cherries 100, Romas and another mystery cherry tomato plant.

The mystery squash is thriving both front and back – though the zuchinis aren’t cooperating too much. I suspect they are a little jealous of the squashes and flower. Also looks like the black eyed susan flower heads I planted are propagating flowers too. I have one huge one that will open any day now. Still looking for the primroses to come up and does anyone know why my nastursiams won’t bloom? I’ve never had that problem before and I don’t know what’s up with that.

But, the really big news is that the Frog spa & pool has turned into a frog swamp and nursery. Yup, I’ve got hundreds of little teensy tiny tadpoles in that thing. At first I wasn’t sure what the heck was in there wriggling around but now I’m sure of it, thanks to hours of watching them, a fish net and a magnifying glass I can see I will be an auntie soon. I’m feeding them goldfish food, which they seem to love. I worry though because I have no idea if that many can be supported in such a small swamp and in the end, I suspect only a few will survive.

And, apparently…I was wrong about Freddy – who probably is really Fredwina.

She comes every day around sunset and hangs out by the swamp, perched on her favorite rock and watches the babies. I discovered that she and her husband or significant other, we’ll call him Ollie have been canoodling in the bamboo plant.

Apparently, when Ollie is done, he’s done and off to the bar.

Anyway, the garden and swamp has become its own universe and is thriving. Meanwhile, I’ll be donning my white lab coat and continuing my study of frog life on planet earth.

Mystery Vegetable Theatre – A New Chapter

Last year, some of you may remember that I had a spontaneous combustion of nature and started growing a mystery melon plant. It started out as a mere seedling and became the monster that almost ate my backyard. Unfortunately, in the end – the plant was more impressive than the fruit it bore and yet another experiment in suprise gardening went down the tubes.

This year, I have this:

it’s producing vegetables that look like this:

I decided to cut some up and throw them in the sautee pan to see what they tasted like or in the alternative if they were some sort of rare garden poison, masquerading as yummy veggies. As it turned out, they were quite yummy and I’m still alive. Moe thinks they might be chokoes, which is some sort of Asian squash – they are definitely a squash – and if she wants to call them chokoes, it’s okay with me.

In addition to the mystery squash that appeared in my garden, planted itself and is growing like crazy, yet another spontaneous entry for this year’s mystery vegetable theatre is the giant cherry tomatoes that are coming in. Since planted cherries last year I was pretty sure a plant or two would sprout up and if so, that I’d let it do it’s thing. But this plant is not some leftover dormant seed from last year. This is some super mega cherry tomatoe plant on crack. Take a look:

Yes folks, those really are cherry tomatoes – and they are bigger than golfballs. And they are on the verge of turning, so my mouth is already watering for a big ol’ tomatur samich, which I just know will be delicious.

I have no idea what’s in the soil out here but there must be something forcing these unbelievable veggies out into the sun and eventually on my dinner table. I’d have to say I’m lucky.

Tune in Monday for the Frog Hotel Caper – ooh and check out the new gardening page. 😉