The first time I ever planted a tomato, I had high hopes for a summer filled with homegrown tomato sandwiches and garden fresh salsa. I think back now to how adorably clueless I was about what it takes to grow a tomato at home.
I bought the plant at a home improvement store and cheerily carried it home to be stuck in a container on the back patio. There it lived a lonely life where I expected it to grow and feed me while I ignored it most days and watered it on occasion.
The plant didn’t die, but that’s about the maximum measure of success I can attribute to my first tomato gardening experience.
It was a puny, pathetic little plant that produced 3 green tomatoes which were promptly removed when I showed them to my 1 and 2 year old toddler kids. By the end of the season, there had been no more tomatoes, and I got bored with the plant that never bloomed again.
Fast forward 8 years, and I can see exactly what I did wrong. The first and most obvious reason for my failure being neglect.
Tomatoes are not a set it and forget it plant. Some gardeners might have success with that method, but most of us will have disappointing results if we don’t pay attention to our tomato plants.
Growing tomatoes is a challenge
Tomatoes love attention. The more time you spend with your tomatoes, the more you will learn about them, their needs, and when they have the best flavor.
It doesn’t have to be hard work, just take a walk around your plants and observe them. The tomato garden is a great place to spend time relaxing. You can even visit with them at night during the hot mosquito-filled summer days.
Growing tomatoes is kinda like being in a relationship. They expect some care and attention from you, the gardener, and in return, they feed you…and feed you well.
Tomatoes smell like summer
I love growing tomatoes because they smell so good! It’s a fresh green smell that is unlike any other plant. It’s a smell that I associate with warm sunny days, the satisfaction of a good day’s work in the garden, and sweet cherry tomatoes for summer snacking.
There’s so much variety.
I can’t think of another food crop that I’ve grown where experimenting with varieties is so rewarding. For flavor, shape, color, and cooking, tomatoes offer the most options and rarely do they disappoint.
I’ve grown all sorts of pumpkins, watermelons, squash, beans, eggplant and more that don’t offer the flavor and variety that you can find in tomatoes.
You can’t buy a tomato at the grocery store that tastes better than one you grow at home.
That’s one of the unique things about tomatoes, you just can’t replicate the flavor of a homegrown tomato.
If you can grow tomatoes, you can grow anything.
Learning to grow tomatoes teaches you all the skill you need to grow any additional food crop. It’s easy to expand your garden once you have tomato growing down.
In our home, tomatoes are a part of our love language.
I met and bonded with my husband over tomatoes. He taught me to start seeds, plant, prune, and tie up tomatoes.
He showed me the incredible variety of sizes, colors, and flavors that you can get from growing tomatoes in the home garden. Just days after we met, we were planting thousands of tomato plants for restaurants and the farmer’s market.
It wasn’t long before we started collecting pollen from our favorite plants and breeding our own varieties. And in just a few weeks, once again our garden will be filled with over two thousand tomato plants from our breeding lines.
For the purposes of choosing the best tomato from each breeding, we have to grow out that many plants to make selections from our crosses.
We also have a separate food garden for feeding our family with our favorite tomatoes for eating and preserving.
This year, we’re also doing something very exciting.
We’re opening the first ever Tomato Academy. It’s a gardening course where students will get access to a week by week tomato growing workbook, video tutorials, tomato pest guide, and a private Facebook group where all students will get to ask questions and share successes.
We’re inviting you to join us to grow tomatoes together, and you’ll have my husband, me, and everyone in the course to answer questions and explain issues along the way.
The course will also include a copy of our garden planning spreadsheets to help you plan an entire food garden and keep track of your garden goals.
If you’d like to join us for the 2018 session of Tomato Academy, please sign up for the waiting list for course enrollment. If you’re looking for more information online about growing tomatoes, start here.
Are you a tomato addict like me?
What is your favorite thing about growing tomatoes?