Skin to seed of tomatoes – part 1
This summer was my third year of growing tomatoes – in pots on my apartment porch. But it was my first successful crop. In the first two years, several disasters happened – the plants grew too tall and broke, neighbor stole the tomatoes as soon as they were vine ripe, pathetic yield, squirrels uprooted the plants while young, slugs got to them…
This year, armed with some no-nonsense growing tips, I started from seeds.
I eventually grew 30-36 plants in 5 pots and reaped 12-14 pounds of several heirloom and cherry tomato varieties. To be perfectly honest, my local Farmer’s market serves up better tasting tomatoes than the home grown ones but there is a huge satisfaction factor with the latter.
My pot growing tips –
- The seedlings were very puny because of the lack of sufficient light at the window sill but grew to healthy plants within two weeks of planting them in pots. As per the tip, they do grow healthier if you cover the stems with soil.
- We used upside down gopher cages to keep the squirrels at bay when the plants were young saplings. Weighed the cages down with bricks.
- To reduce slug infestation, I placed the pots off the ground on bricks. Also, physically removed slugs from the pots and plants once every two days. Also, adding coffee water to the lawn around the pots seemed to help. Got left over coffee grounds from local Peets and made a gallon or two of cowboy style coffee for this purpose.
- Potted 5-6 plants in a single pot (20 inch wide by 1.5 ft deep). Once they grew taller than gopher cages, we added the support.
- As per the tip, I used ties to support the plants to their cages and to each other.
- I used normal cages found at the local Walmart. But eventually, the cages had to be tied to a solid post for pot stability.
- For ripe tomatoes, started harvesting the tomatoes as soon as they started turning color and let them ripen off the vine. This was the sure way of keeping the birds from pecking at them.
Subsequent posts will cover some recipes from this year’s crop. Here are some photos from last year’s tomato adventures: