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!