THE TOMATO THAT COULD
by June Pauline Zent Published in Mother Earth News several years ago
When the first freeze hit North Florida last year I ventured out into my little paradise dreading to see the cherished tomato plants and other vegetables shriveled up and dieing. It usually takes me at least two weeks to recover from this loss. But wait, I was startled to see one little tomato still defiantly upright with all its leaves intact. I had planted it as a cutting from an heirloom that I was partial to but really thought I was too late for it to outrun the frost. “Well, I said – yes I talk to plants- if you are so determined to live I will help you out.” So I found a large pot and carefully transplanted my little saving grace. I placed the pot by the dirt road in the sunniest spot and built a small wire fence around it to keep the armadillos at bay. Every morning I checked the weather forecast and brought Grace into the house when cold threatened taking her back out again on warm sunny days. She thrived and harbored no bugs or worms although no blooms came. I have to say she saved the winter from being the usually gloomy months of the year.
Time passed and I started my usual 100 plus vegetable seeds under grow lights. I always think that some will not germinate but they all do! However I have not got the heart to terminate extras so in late March all were planted in the garden. Grace was still potted by the road because of my fear that she was too big now to move without killing her. Then my surveying son with his huge truck surprised me with a visit. I proudly showed off Grace to him. Later at dinner he was unusually quiet and I asked what was wrong. He said, “Mom I am scared to tell you this but I didn’t see your tomato plant when I looked for a place to park the truck. I am sorry but I ran over it.” I rushed outside and there she was splattered on the ground pot and all! Oh, it was heart stopping but I gathered it up, found another pot, consoled my son, and hoped for the best!
Grace was not to be deterred and began to grow again. Mustering my courage I found a large area in the back of the garden, added compost and organic fertilizer, and took the plunge to transplant her. In one months time she grew to the top of the fence so I added a six-foot pole and tied her up around it. It is April 27th. and she is full of blooms and tomatoes large and small. Check out the Picture of the biggest, most productive tomato plant that I have ever helped to grow! She is truly THE TOMATO THAT COULD!
Excellent story! I would love to have a greenhouse so I could try treating a tomato as a perennial.
Thank you so much Jimmy! Actually I have done that. There are very large South facing windows in my living room where I have growing right now a heirloom cherry tomato and a large beefstake that have both been growing for two years now right through the winters. You just have to prune off the old growth and new shoots grow back. You don’t have as many as you can get in the ground but they are just as tasty. I plan to see how long they will keep producing. I have pictures and plan to write a blog about them soon. Maybe you will get some ideas from it.
Thanks for your comment!
One of my quilting bee friends says “never plant your tomatoes before April 15th” – but it’s so warm here and I just bought new plants. I’m going to plant them any way, just 4 little plants. I’ve got two cherry tomato plants, two standard sized, one basil and one rosemary. A tiny garden is better than nothing at all.
You bet a litle garden is better than no garden and home grown tomatos are the one thing that I would always plant.You will have more time down the road to have a big garden!
Nice to see you again on my blog! Thank you
One of my quilting bee friends says “never plant your tomatoes before April 15th” but I just bought 4 new plants (two are cherry tomatoes), a basil and rosemary plant too. I don’t think it’s going to freeze again in Virginia. I’m going to plant them anyway and hope for the best. A little garden is better than no garden at all, right? Thanks for your inspiration!
I have had tomatos planted since early March and hatched a freeze plan just in case. If a freeze threatens water them good and place a bucket or other vessel over them so that they don’t touch the container. Your frieds are not paying attention to our warming atmosphere. Your on the coast so your climate is not that much different from here. The rosemary can deal with any cold or hot but treat the basil like tomatos I recal that you had better luck with tomatos than me.
Thank you so much for your comment!