A little prep and a little prayer yield enough tomatoes to feed a multitude

lazy-gardenerTHE LAZY GARDENER

By BOBBI BUCHANAN
Chief Editor

For folks who long to grow their own food without all the fuss and fancy equipment, we bring you the gardening foibles of Bobbi Buchanan. She doesn’t have the wherewithal to hoe a straight row, let alone keep her garden neat and weeded. She’s an expert at nothing, which makes the fruits of her minor labors that much more inspiring for the rest of us. Welcome to The Lazy Gardener.

By some sweet fate, or the grace of God, I’m still harvesting tomatoes in late October. This was by no means planned. In mid-July, when my four beefsteak tomato plants had grown to near six feet tall, they were just beginning to bloom. I fretted thinking we would see a frost before those little babies came into the world.

more-maters

Coming full circle: ripening the late harvest on the table under the south-facing window where the seedlings got their start.

But they survived. In early August, the first pea-sized fruits appeared. And they grew and multiplied and, finally, ripened.  By late August, my husband David and I were eating tomatoes straight off the vine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’re still getting one or two tomatoes a day, though, with the cooler temperatures and  decreasing sunlight, I’ve had to bring the half-ripened ones inside to finish them off on the window sill.

So how, you might ask, did “The Lazy Gardener” get this late-blooming bounty? The only explanation I can think of is the 30-minute effort I put into preparing the tomato bed.

In March, I took a five-gallon bucket of year-old compost mixed with a five-gallon bucket of two-year-old horse manure and turned up the soil in our front garden bed—you know, the place where most people like to plant their roses and monkey grass. I shoveled maybe 10 minutes, then dumped the manure and compost on top and mixed all that muck together. I just raked back and forth for a few minutes, until it looked ready. I left it there until I was ready to transplant my seedlings.

That didn’t happen for another two months, even though I started my tomatoes from seed in January. I sowed them in little pots on our sewing table (how appropriate!) under a south-facing window and watered them gently every day for weeks. Talk about tedious! I thought they’d never grow up.

Thanks to climate change, it didn’t take much to harden off the plants. Hardening off means getting them acclimated to living outdoors. You take the seedlings in their pots and set them on the porch every day for about a week, letting them stay outside a bit longer each day. By May, the temperatures in Kentucky were already well into the 90s. So once the seedlings were ready, I dug out four spots in the front bed, took each seedling with the clump of soil still attached to its roots and planted it in the designated hole. (David taught me that you should fill the dirt around the plant where needed and smooth it over, but do not pack it down.) Then I said a little prayer for the plants, mostly to keep the cats and dog from digging them up.

I just heard that the temperature is supposed to dip into the 30s Thursday night. Better go make room on the sewing table!

Next Up: “Lazy composting”


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2 comments

  1. I have a bumper crop of tomatoes right now also… they did not produce in the summer just recently… I had the prettiest bushes and then all of a sudden hundreds of small tomatoes. Yummy!

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