my little tomato experiment

July 22nd, 2008

My Little Tomato Experiment

When I was in graduate school and living in an apartment, I had a garden on my patio.  For a patio garden, it was a rather large one, and practically free for me to supply and upkeep, since through my graduate program I had access to free plants from yield trials for everything from tomatoes to peppers to herbs to peas and anything else that could grow in a bin on a patio.  I looked forward to the fresh produce every year, and gardening itself was one of my most relaxing and enjoyable activities.

And then, I finished graduate school and started having kids.  My son had priority over a garden, and besides, he needed the patio space to play.  By the time I had my daughter, we were looking for a house, and I was excited about the idea of starting another garden, outside, of my very own.

And this year, the second year we’ve lived in our house, I started that garden.  Only the very beginnings of it – two tomato plants I bought for $3 each already grown into small plants.  Someday, when my children are a little bigger, I want to grow plants from seedlings in my sunroom and transplant them outside, but with a 1 year old afoot that would be a recipe for disaster.  So I;ve started small, with a Roma tomato plant and a Beefsteak tomato plant.  I planted them two months ago in wooden buckets on the edge of our front walkway, and have watered them and given them soil ever since.

The Roma plant has done well from the start, and has been producing tomatos for several weeks now.  None are ripe yet, but the very first are starting to turn shiny and red.  The Beefsteak plant seemed to be a failure – the edges of the leaves seemed to yellow a bit, and flowers came and went without any sign of fruit.  But this week, it has started producing little tiny tomatoes.  I don’t know what will become of them, but it is a step in the right direction for sure.

With weird warnings about tomatoes in the news lately, I’ve been afraid to buy them at the store, so I can’t wait to harvest my very own.   Hopefully pretty soon, we’ll have our own Roma tomatoes, and later this summer, some Beefsteak as well.  I am sure we’ll end up with more tomatoes than the initial $6 investment.  And next summer – I’m digging up the back flower beds and putting in some more veggies.  As long as I can figure out how to outwit the herds of neighborhood bunnies…

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12 Responses to “My Little Tomato Experiment”

  1. It is always great to do something that is fun and that relaxes you. Not everything should be work work work.
    Gardening is perfect because it is work, rest and play. And you save money by getting to eat your own vegetables (and usually they taste better than the ones you get from the store too).
    Mum mum has just started gardening and she is loving it. I don’t think I will ever be a gardener…not even to save money. I am an entrepreneur at heart, not a frugal money saver. Thats why I run an entrepreneurial blog and not a blog that focuses on saving money. I really like your blog by the way. Keep it up

  2. Home-grown tomatoes taste better, too! We went a bit crazy this year and bought six each of beefsteak, early girl, orange, and cherry tomatoes. I guess we’ll be learning how to can and freeze them soon.

    If you really want to impress your children, try cherry tomatoes next year. They ripen earlier than their larger relatives, and you’ll have dozens of small tomatoes to harvest each week. Orange tomato varieties also ripen earlier.

    You could cut back on the cost of plants by sharing with a friend or neighbor. Our local greenhouse offers one large plant for $3, or six smaller plants for $2. Once they’re in the ground, the smaller plants rapidly catch up to the more expensive ones.

  3. I love gardening, even on our small deck. We grew tomato plants from seed this year, and for a while they were really small. I worried they were going to die and bought a seedling just in case. Now the seedling is HUGE and full of green tomatoes and the little guy from seed has a few too. :)

    Good luck outsmarting the little bunnies, they can be quite conniving when there’s fresh veggies at steak. ;)

  4. …the whole tomatoes from the store thing. As an ER nurse (and a mom more importantly) I’ve been keeping up with this story. Come to find out, the salmonella was traced back to salsa and the offending vegetable is none other than the jalapeno. Who would have guessed?

  5. Oh I can’t wait until I have a backyard to garden in. Right now I have a window box on my apartment balcony with some herbs and flowers, but no vegetables. It’s just too windy up there to chance having tomatoes fall on the cars below me!

    Someday I’ll have a full garden of my own. Carrots and beans and peas! Oh my!

  6. I planted my first real vegetable garden this year. I went whole hog and built myself a square foot garden ( My tomato plant that I bought at walmart for $1.50 is now 5 feet tall and starting to produce fruit. My smaller Roma has not yet started fruiting, but has flowers at least. I’ve also got peas, beets, carrots, green beans, dill, sage, basil, thyme, lettuce, and spinach. It’s been fun checking on the progress of the garden every day.

  7. Gardening is awesome! This is coming from someone who just did it for the first time last year. It was really empowering to know that my family could grow their own food. Not only was it insurance for our budget because we didn’t have to go to the grocery store for a lot of produce, it was healthy to boot! I hope your endeavors lead to many healthy tomatoes!


  8. I’ll heartily recommend Oxheart Orange heirloom tomato. Here in cool NW Oregon I have already harvested tomatoes off it, with lots more on the way. They are in raised beds.

    You might look into the Food not Lawns craze, square foot gardening, vertical gardening is a real space saver, and edible landscaping. My house is on a 50×100 lot, and that doesn’t leave a lot of room for a garden, so most of the lawn is going! The garden is already producing more than I can eat daily, so I am freezing, drying, and giving to family already.

    If you want something to grow quickly and encourage the kids, my grandkids planted all the potatoes and carrots… The potatoes just grow soooo fast that the kids are amazed with how well ‘their garden’ patches are growing!

  9. i can’t wait until we have a house so we can grow some of our own veggies! i’m huge on produce and hate spending so much money on it!

  10. Hey, I’m growing Romas, too! We got started a bit late, so we’ve not been able to harvest them yet, either.

    I still can’t decide if I find gardening “relaxing and enjoyable.” I like weeding – it’s easy and mindless and immediately satisfying – but I don’t like being outdoors when it’s 95 degrees out and buggy. And there are lot of garden tasks to do and garden decisions to make I don’t like.


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