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 FarmΒ 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.Β 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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Planting Day

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Saturday was planting day at my house. I woke up in a tizzy of excitement and anticipation for what the day would hold. First I re-reviewed my garden plans with my garden assistants (my husband and dad).

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Since this was our first real garden, I spent a lot of time developing theΒ garden plan. To develop the plan, I reviewed my gardening books, read the seed packets to determine how much light and space each piece of produce needed and alsoΒ tried to think about how each would grow for optimal use of our garden plot.

Then we went over to evaluate the space where we had prepped the garden to see if there were any additional supplies we would need. We determined we needed additional soil (for some reason we always need more soil), stakes (for the tomato and bean plants), plant velcro (to velcro the plants to the stakes), twine, a new rake and the plants we weren’t going to grow from seeds (tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, blueberries and marigolds).

IMG_5945So after picking up our additional supplies it was finally time to plant our garden! I was especially glad my dad was with us – he has actually created a garden before so he took the lead.

  1. Β The first thing we did was plot out the rows. I wanted at least a foot in between each row so we measured it out and found out we had room for 9 rows in our garden bed.
  2. Then we started to make the mound of dirt using a hoe to space out our rows.
  3. Once our mounds were created it was time to plot out where the seeds/plants were going to go – using my garden diagram as a guide.
  4. It was finally time to start planting the seeds. For each seed packet, I read the instructions on the packet for how many seeds and how far apart they should be planted. I made a slight trough in the dirt, planted the seeds and then covered them with dirt.
  5. Next we planted the plants we had bought by digging holes, planting and then covering the plants with dirt.
  6. We added the trellises for the tomato and bean plants.
  7. It was finally time to water our garden. We wanted to give the garden a great start in life so we gave it lots of water to drink. New seeds need lots of water in order to germinate. SO MUCH WATER!

 

Now we wait, water, wait, water and more waiting to see if things start to sprout!

In the meantime, happy eating and gardening!

~The Gardening Dietitian