When planning my vegetable garden for this year I took quite a few things into account: the spacing, companion planting, old standbys and new varieties I wanted to try. Tomatoes are a fun place to put this into practice because they can often be full of surprises. Last year I caged and staked my Brandywine and Early Girls and had Arkansas Traveler, Mr. Stripey, and Super Sweet 100 on the trellis. The trellis worked so well I decided to go that route for all my tomatoes this year.
Unfortunately for me I seemed to have amnesia regarding how big and sprawling certain plants can get. Add that to just not knowing how a certain variety grows because I haven’t grown it before and you have my current situation with my Yellow Pear Tomatoes. On one five foot wide trellis I have Brandywine and Roma Italia, both of which are doing fairly well (save the blossom end rot on some of my Romas – do they need more calcium than other varieties?). The other trellis of the same size I have Mortgage Lifter, Cherokee Purple, Super Sweet 100 and Yellow Pear tomatoes.
The Yellow Pear Tomatoes have decided they are taking over. Due to excessive rain early in the season, I couldn’t get out often early in the growing season to prune. In the past, I haven’t pruned much and never ran into problems. This year the Yellow Pear tomatoes have grown up (like they should) and over my other tomatoes to the point where the other plants look like they are wearing a blanket made up of the single pear tomato plant. Is this a usual growth habit of these small fruit tomatoes or do I have some sort of super plant on my hands. In fact, the other day I was harvesting and this is what I got in ONE harvest:
The crazy thing is, just two days prior I had harvested about the same amount from the same plant. It truly is a ridiculous amount for a family of four. So I acted as the generous neighbor and knocked on the door next door and offered them up. I felt it was only fair considering her husband and youngest son helped me fill the beds in the spring. They’ve also been beneficiaries of my cucumbers as well.
Speaking of ridiculous, this was my complete harvest from last week:
A lot got given away (some cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and the smaller squash), and a few others were frozen and I still have to find time to shred the baseball bat sized zucchini.
Those orange things on the table? Why yes, they are pumpkins harvested in August, why do you ask? Twelve pumpkins from one vine. TWELVE! One followed by a two. I need to research how to prepare these for the pies they are destined to become. Did you see how many tomatoes I have there? Some are going to be crushed and frozen, others eaten straight up.
I think I need a nametag that says “Lazy Gardener” because I’m not canning anything at all this year. There is, sadly, a lack of time. More tragic is the lack of motivation.
One thing that this abundance has taught me is to be judicious in what I plant and how many. The past two years have been planting to see if it grew. Next year, I’m only planting what we are sure to eat. I will probably try planting watermelon again after two solid years of failure. My mini-cantaloupe spit out one melon (no more on the horizon), and the watermelon spit out one that I need to pick and see if it’s even edible. I planted Sugar Baby and the melon I have is mini, even for that variety. The one more successful melon has been the enigmatically named Green Melon. Not sure if it is named for the color of its rind or flesh (or both). I have a decent sized melon on the vine and the plant seems to be thriving, spreading nicely on the trellis. The watermelon looked like it could barely keep it’s own leaves alive let alone a melon or two. And I may pass on the broccoli and cauliflower next year. The cauliflower did nothing and the ratio of edibility to plant size of the broccoli isn’t small enough to make it worth my while.
For growing a fully organic garden, I couldn’t have been happier. I’m lazy enough to not care when I lose a plant or three and tend to choose varieties that don’t need coddling. The fun starts in November or so when there is snow on the ground and I start planning for next year.