The Tomato Massacre of 2018

“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” ~ Liberty Hyde Bailey

It all started 2 weeks ago at a party. I invited my favorite gardeners, Erin and Moses, from St. Simon’s Farm to the party. As we were enjoying refreshments and watching the small child run around like a crazy man – I took Erin and Moses for a tour of my garden.

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They immediately noticed my tomato plants. The tomato plants had been growing literally like a weed – there were branches everywhere and they had gotten to be almost as tall as I am. I was very proud of how abundant they looked and excited to show them to Erin and Moses. Always helpful, Moses gave me some advice about my tomato plants.

Moses looked at the tomato plants and gave a disapproving stare as he began to explain my problem. For tomato plants to be prolific, he explained, I would need to cut them back and streamline them. If the tomato plant is busy using its energy to keep making these long branches and leaves, it wouldn’t have enough energy left for a large harvest of tomatoes.

That was not what I was expecting. My big beautiful tomato plants were too big and beautiful? I was having a tantrum in my head. So like most things I don’t like to hear – I decided to put it in the back of my mind and deal with it later… For 2 weeks, every time I went in the garden (which is every day) I stared at the tomato plants. The more I stared the more I realized that Moses must be right. The branches were starting to break off themselves, and the leaves at the bottom of the branches were starting to turn yellow and die. Some clean up was necessary.

So yesterday, I finally took the plunge and started to clean up the tomato plants. With every cut, I was close to tears. So many branches, some with tomato flowers, some with some actual tomatoes all chopped off and tossed to the side. Moses said I could replant these branches but I had no more room in my garden plot for them. It was a massacre. Literally a garden massacre had occurred.

Later in the day, as I walked through my garden showing it to a friend, I realized how right Moses was. My tomato plants actually looked happy and healthy. There were no dead leaves, no sprawling branches, just healthy looking tomato plants still with many flowers and tomatoes growing on them. Again I am reminded just how many life lessons gardening can teach us. Just like the tomato plants it is important to cut away damaging acquaintances, friends or even activities so that we can reach our true potential. This is another lesson I am learning and working on as I grow older. It is ok to say no sometimes so that you can make sure you are surrounding yourself with people and things that help you grow instead of things that prohibit you from being fruitful. Its that extra effort and pruning that is necessary for true success.

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