At age 51, I finally made good on planting a small vegetable garden this year. And I think I’ve made every possible novice mistake despite all my research.
First, I planted from organic, non-GMO seed, which was not a mistake. But I started the seeds in early April. Next time I’d start indoors in February, or stagger the seed starts throughout the early spring. It’s almost August and I haven’t had a single ripe garden tomato yet.
I also planted way the hell too many seeds. When I poured them out of the package, they were so small I couldn’t imagine that one seed could possibly produce very many tomatoes. And what if the seeds didn’t thrive? I overcompensated by planting half a package of each tomato variety. Big mistake. The seeds germinated really well and then I had to figure out which seedlings got voted off the island. It was excruciating. Next time I’ll plant fewer seeds. And be ruthless in the culling of seedlings.
The seedlings grew. And grew. I piddled around getting tomato cages because I wanted to build my own, based on an article I’d read that made it seem so simple. It wasn’t simple and the plants got huge and tipped over. So I ended up with WalMart cages that simply can’t contain, much less support, these mutant giants.
Then the horn worms showed up to party. I was having none of that and painstakingly picked the little demons off by hand. But I must’ve missed a few little demons and they grew. And grew. And ate up a bunch of leaves. I had to pick off these creepy critters by (gloved) hand, and dispose of them…pretty cruelly by dumping them down the garbage disposal and grinding them up. I’m not proud of it, but they were eating my tomato plants. Jerks.
Which brings us to last week. The bottom leaves are turning yellow. I thought that was due to overwatering, but the soil is dry. The internet says it could be any number of reasons, but I fear I’ll never get a vine-ripened homegrown tomato this summer.
Sigh. This is much harder than I thought it would be.