Copyright S. Bradley Stoner
As a card carrying member of the Green Thumb Society, I just want to know, "or Whatsamatta you Tim "Life Explained" Clark?" We society members just cannot understand why you can't seem to get it right. I mean tomatoes are the simplest of fruits to grow. Yes, it's a fruit, not a vegetable... I don't care what section produce managers put them in, they are NOT VEGETABLES! And, they are not suicidal... you gotta kill them. Contrary to what some folks say, that is not easy. Well, it is for some apparently, but pretty much all you have to do is keep them watered and feed them occasionally. That's right... tomatoes eat. Failure to slake their thirst or keep their little tomato tummies full and they will die... or rather you will be guilty of murdering them. We have a penalty for tomatocide by the way. You wouldn't like it. It involves phosphoric acid.
Now every member of the Green Thumb Society has their own approach to growing those lush, round, red orbs of salad's delight, and it largely depends on where that member lives. Me? I start 'em from seed in little fiber pots early in the spring here in Texas. When they get big enough, I transfer them to larger post filled with rich potting soil. The nutrients in the soil will keep their little tomato tummies full for a while, but like all growing children, they will soon exhaust the pantry. That's where tomato formula comes in... I use Miracle-Gro... and I have found it truly is a little miracle in a box... or plastic tube, depending on which one you select. Like everything else, you have to be judicious in your feeding schedule or they'll get colic and croak. That's unforgivable and can get you charged with tomatoslaughter. It's a lesser crime, but still carries a penalty... and your salads will hate you. I find about once every two or three weeks is plenty and each plant needs only a cup or so of the nectar of tomato life to maintain a healthy lifestyle. If it thunderstorms and drops rain on them, you can even skip a feeding or two, depending on how long the storms last. Lightening in thunderstorms put lots of nitrogen in the rain... and tomatoes and other green growing things love nitrogen... they're addicted to it... but that isn't treated as a crime.. unless the FDA and USDA pull off that "no gardens for you" coup. Then a bunch of law abiding citizens will suddenly become criminals, but I figure they won't have enough jail space.
Now as to pests... I don't dust my tomatoes... I don't spray them... I build birdhouses and I keep small fountains running during the daytime. I have birds. I have wrens, sparrows, grackles. mocking birds... and they're wonderful pest pickers. They think horn worms are delicious... grubs are tasty little snacks. And the ladybugs annihilate aphids. That doesn't make me organic it makes me practical... and cheap. At least so some people say.
Oh... and tomatoes love sun, but not so much that it burns them, which is exactly what would happen here in south central Texas if I left them out in the open. Nope, my tomatoes get sun part of the day and are shaded the rest. If the angle of inclination changes, I can move the pots.
So to repeat, "Whatsamatta you Tim?" Get with the program. Unless, of course, you truly are cursed, in which case we will have to bring you up in front of Judge Foliage and have you tried for practicing brown magic. You don't want to know what the penalty for that is.