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mbumby
my thumb, it must be black and gross 
15th-Sep-2013 01:46 am
Bad food
This past year I stumbled across a "Topsy Turvy" tomato planter in a dollar store and couldn't resist.
Bought a dingus to hang it from, some more planters to balance said dingus, an Earth Box, a lot of good soil, a green-house thingy with growing peat pills in which to sprout seeds, and some seeds.

Babied them. Did everything I was supposed to. Well, Instead of just throwing away the weakest sprouts in the pill I tried to get them to live elsewhere, but I did remove them.

Started a bit too late in the year. Killed about 4 sprouts (my best) figuring out how to use the Topsy Turvy and what my problem was. Finally got one to take. The Earth Box suggested that for tomatoes I only plant 2 plants, but I cheated and planted 3. 2 died almost immediately. I put two more in those spots and they died almost immediately. I said, "One is good". I dug up four old large pots, and some crappy dirt from old dead plants and planted the remaining sprouts in them. I babied them. I watered them often. I researched on the web. Finally I got some flowers. And eventually some tiny green tomatoes. Two of them on the Topsy Turvy. About a half dozen other flowers on that plant never turned into fruit. (Web says that the flowers contain both sexes and do not need to be artificially fertilized.) I was amused that my crappy-dirt tomatoes grew taller first, and produced fruit first. My surviving Earth Box tomato, though, had a thicker stem and looked more hardy.

Went away for WorldCon. They looked fine when I got back. (Someone was looking in on the houses and plants.) Went away for the weekend. Had a BUSY week, and only just yesterday was home before dark and got to look at them. Since it was chilly this morning (they had been talking frost, but I don't believe it did get that cold) I figured I'd bring them inside to the enclosed-but-not-heated porch. Brought my topsy turvy in. It has 2 small green tomatoes on it. Brought one of the crappy-dirt plants in (after removing 2 slugs from the pot). It has one not-great-looking, slightly less green tomato. Brought the other 3 crappy-dirt plants and the earth box near to the house. One was completely infested with ants, so I'll not bring it inside. 4 or 5 tomatoes had fallen off. They were rotten and something that looks a bit like a skinny pill bug was living in them. I picked up the husks, and they dove out the holes and to the ground. Most of the tomatoes still on the vines have ugly patches. I'm suspecting that something has laid eggs in them. Some are downright rotten although not yet ripe. Some are smaller than a shooter and browning. The best looking small green tomato (2 inch diameter) fell off while I was carrying the pot (with the tomato cage attached -- they all have cages except for the Topsy Turvy and the Earth Box. I've put it on the windowsill to see what it will do. What's the worst that can happen? It will decompose and its juices will destroy that entire wall and whatever is living in it will infest the house? Sort of an "Invasion of the Alien House Snatchers"?

I didn't expect to make my money back in tomatoes, but dangit, I expected about a dozen. And now it looks like I might not even get one.

Having the opportunity to feed the slugs, the ants, and other creepie-crawlies is scant consolation after the money, and especially time, I spent.
Comments 
15th-Sep-2013 03:15 pm (UTC)

Stories like this make me glad I'm allergic to tomatoes. :-)
15th-Sep-2013 05:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the smile.
16th-Sep-2013 02:08 am (UTC)
If you'd ever like me to pop by and look at your setup and make suggestions, I'd be happy to. (I'm an enthusiastic gardener with some experience.)
16th-Sep-2013 09:34 pm (UTC)
I've tried various containers for tomatoes. Always a bit underwhelming.

This year, I did a raised garden - a 8 foot ring of landscaping blocks 12" high. Dumped in dirt and a bit of peat moss. Watered and ignored.

The four plans grew so big they collapsed the tomato cages!

My takeaway. Full sun, lots of dirt, water. No fertilizer**. It doesn't matter if your thumb is black - you will get tomoatos.

** It seems fertilizer can cause tomato rot. They grow too fast and outpace other needed nutrients.
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