How not to kill tomatoes

If you’ve read my blog over the years (seems unlikely, but if so – thanks!), then you know I have an on-again, off-again relationship with tomato growing. Assuming you don’t remember the whole melodramatic saga of our rocky romance – I try to put it out of mind, too – allow me to refresh your memory:

There was that year (2012) when we first built our raised beds when I had such high hopes and energy, and fought tooth and nail against tomato blight when it started to rear its head. The foliage mostly died that year but the tomatoes were delicious. Next season, having somehow forgotten the struggles of the previous year, I got excited about tomatoes again, only to lose the fight with blight, which broke my heart. (And yes, I had rotated the crop to a different bed and thrown the diseased plants in the garbage).

You’d think I’d finally learned when I swore off planting tomatoes the next year, but within 2 months I was rushing to buy some starts.

Last year, I finally managed to go tomato-free, and we made it just fine.

So now that you’re caught up, back to this year’s garden and the two gift tomato plants I received last month. They came with a recommendation to read “You Bet Your Garden Guide to Growing Great Tomatoes”, by Mike McGrath of the “You Bet Your Garden” podcast. In this book, I learned that everything I’ve ever done to a tomato plant was wrong, with a few exceptions. I’ve tried to implement a few of the tips in the book – such as spreading mulch around the bottom of the plants – and am trying out a new support system I got for $8 apiece – it’s meant to be assembled in a triangular shape, but you could easily expand it by snapping more sets together (kind of like legos for tomato cages!)

Tomatoes strawberries & garlic late May - NC Garden Gals

The tomatoes with their cages (to their left, abundant strawberries and garlic).

Off on this wild tomato-growing journey once again! I feel apprehensive, but as always, when the first fruits start to appear all the misery seems somehow worth it.

First baby tomato - NC Garden Gals

The first little fruits on the Cherokee Purple plant are starting to grow!