• By Janine Pineo •
Blink and you miss it.
Wasn’t it just July and I was thinking I needed to finish the supports for the tomatoes?
Somehow it’s now the end of August.
And the tomatoes?
They wait for no gardener, nor trellis.
Not that it seems to have mattered in the slightest. I can fuss and fiddle and turn green with tomato schmutz and the tomatoes take exception to my hovering.
I ignore them and they riot in their row, spilling this way and that, toppling under the ponderous weight of fruit that looks like perfect plastic replicas.
I am a bit befuddled as to how they ended up like this given my serious lack of attention to their well-being. It started this spring with my usual crazy complement of six-packs and singular other additions I happened across at different greenhouses.
I always think I can add at least one more. No, two.
I had six of the 6-foot tomatoes from friend Dick Smith at Glenburn Gardens who insists that I really need more of them. From those, I’ve been harvesting tomatoes since early June.
There is no sign they’ll be quitting anytime soon.
Then I got more, just in a smaller size. I have tried to block out how many I planted, but I believe the total hovered near the upper end of 60, possibly tilting into the low 70s.
I really don’t want to remember.
I can’t recall doing anything special at the start. After digging the hole for each, I tossed in my usual handful of Cockadoodle Doo, the organic chicken manure fertilizer I’ve been using for many years. I also tossed in a good shake of Espoma Tomato-tone to help nip the blossom-end rot in the bud, so to speak.
Stirred it around a bit, dropped in the plant, mounded up the dirt and that was that.
At some point in July, I started building the row-long trellis structure and tying up the vines. I also clipped off the leaves and shoots at the base of each vine, going up at least a foot or more in an attempt to keep the possibility of blight at bay by limiting the splashback into the plant from any spores in the soil.
I considered scratching in some more Tomato-tone around the base of each and then got distracted.
Next thing I know, it’s late August and the trellis won’t ever get finished and the plants are as happy as can be.
Way to confuse me, nature.
Not that I am complaining. The hybrid varieties are ripening nicely, with Celebrity and Early Girl out of the gate first.
Early Girl, introduced back in 1975 by Burpee, was bred to ripen earlier than most varieties. It is indeterminate, meaning it will sprawl all over unless you rein it in, but the variety is as reliable as can be in my garden, unless some sort of dread disease strikes. Each plant can easily produce pounds and pounds of fruit, and with the pair of 6-foot ones I purchased, each picking results in a dozen or more ripe fruit every couple or three days.
Celebrity won the All-America Selections award in 1984, a hybrid offering resistance to multiple diseases. An indeterminate variety, it also can grow well in most climates, even ones with cooler nights. Tomatoes love heat, so warm nights are nirvana for the plant and the fruit.
The cherry tomatoes have been doing well, too, including Sweet Million (a red cultivar) and Sun Gold (an orange variety). Plus the heirlooms are coming right along. The Green Zebras are getting their stripes while the Pruden’s Purple has ripened one lovely beauty already. I haven’t seen any blush yet on the Garden Peach, but the fuzz is there.
There are more — many more — varieties draped about the upper reaches of the row, but I haven’t seen anything yet but green, green fruit.
I think I’ll stick with my initial, unintentional trick.
I’ll just ignore them for now.
First published in the Bangor Daily News on August 25, 2012.