My Best

I pulled out the tiny stick tomato plant the other night. I don’t know what went wrong with it, but it remained a tiny stick, flowered a couple times, though never set fruit.

Another disappointment related to this was that I thought the stick was a Juliet plant, but the other seedling that came from the same four-pack is definitely not Juliet. It’s some sort of large paste tomato, I’m guessing Mamma Mia but I will have no way to be sure…

…because the seedling I planted that was supposed to be Mamma Mia is, you guessed it, definitely not Mamma Mia, but instead some sort of cocktail tomato. It’s the best producer in the garden so I can’t really complain except I have no idea what it is, so even if it’s a really good plant I won’t know what to buy again.

I think I’m also going to have to pull out Big Zak, who has still not set any fruit, so if he’s supposed to grow to like a 5 lb tomato, time is not on his side.

Except for Mystery Cocktail, my plants are about half (seriously) the size I’d expect them to be by mid-August. By now I’m usually pruning off all the branches that have gone out of control and are spilling out onto the grass or into the adjacent cages, but this year I’ve got nothing to prune.

I could continue to describe the rest of my tomato woes, as there are a lot this summer. Many things might have gone wrong and I can’t really be sure what the real kicker was, as there are just too many variables. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe my neighbour’s tree is too big now and casting too much shade, maybe I didn’t water or fertilize them enough, maybe the greenhouse sold me duds and I started my other plants too late, maybe I neglected them a bit because I was distracted with everything else going on. Most likely it’s a combination of all of these.

I started this blog because I love tomatoes – I love eating them, I love growing them, I love cooking with them, I love learning about them. Unfortunately I’ve done the worst job with them, this “blog year”, out of any year I’ve been growing them. I guess it’s like everything else this summer – we can try and do the same things that bring us summer joy and normalcy, but there’s this cloud of uncertainty and strangeness hovering over it all, a reminder that it’s not a normal summer, we’re in a pandemic and… it SUCKS. I shouldn’t be too surprised that the tomatoes followed the same pattern as everything else.

It’s okay though. I think we all did our best this summer, and our best perhaps looked a little different than it may have in other years. So if your best was that you got seeds to germinate but forgot to water them in July because you had to go back to work and figure out pandemic daycare, that’s okay. If your best was simply finding some joy in learning about gardening by watching YouTube videos, or cheering on your friends who planted stuff, perfect.

No matter what happens, I’ll surely get a few trusty Celebrities starting to ripen in the next few weeks, and because of all this they’ll taste even better than I expect them to. The one or two Pineapples or Ananas Noires that manage to ripen will be the most treasured of any year. And then I’ll come back and try my best again next summer.

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