, , , , , , ,

We’re about to go tomato crazy all up in here. My saucy vining vixens have grown from six-inch starter plants to six-foot behemoths laden with plump green fruit. When will they ripen? How long must we wait?

The Texas Tomato Cages have lived up to their promise. During a summer rainstorm with sixty mile an hour winds and flowers and tree limbs whipping around madly, the tomato cages didn’t budge. Although the circumference of the cages looked ridiculous around the teensy starter plants early in the season, the vines have had no problem filling every inch of the cages and reaching the tops already, with a couple more months of summer to go. Now my problem is how to go higher.

Trying to maximize productivity through an intelligent use of space, I only planted three tomatoes this year. My husband, fearing dearth, questioned me about the plan: “only three?” Yes, three, and one tomato is determinate. (Luckily, he doesn’t know what that means.) My theory is that with better vertical gardening we’ll have more fruit from fewer plants. He questioned me only once, and then assumed his usual charmingly blind faith in my decisions. Why anyone would trust me of all people is something I’ll never understand. He’s not an idiot, and yet he trusts me. Such a wonderful man.

But back to tomatoes: last year I had about two or three big harvest days before the vines collapsed under their own bulk or grew too long to keep off the ground, and the tangled mess left fruit rotting in the dirt. I left bare dirt instead of mulching last year because I wasn’t sure what material to use for mulch in a food garden. Wood mulch encourages fungal activity in the soil, which is not as beneficial for annuals as bacterial activity, and leads to creepy mushrooms growing in the veggie patch. Gross. This year I went with the green matter theory, tossing any chopped up plant materials I pruned or harvested onto the veggie bed instead of into the compost, including some weeds and grass clippings. So far the green mulch does not seem to “rob the soil of nitrogen” as some people claim, and it keeps the dirt from splashing up onto the plants when it rains. (Dirt splashing=disease.)

The tomatoes are tall and heavy with promising green globes. The lowest fruit on the vines is just about to ripen. Once tomato season starts, it may go on until October if I’ve planned things right and the weather holds out. It’s almost time to go tomato crazy. Let the games begin!