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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Attack of the Killer Tomatoe Plants

Help!  My tomatoes are out of control!  They’re growing out of their cages and over the fence and into the neighboring green beans and peas!  They’re five foot tall and still growing -- truly! Vines and green tomatoes are everywhere.  We’re talking only six plants here:  one miniature tomato plant and a beefy plant both from Urban Growers.  The remaining four are misfit plants found at a veggie stand that were drying up and looking a bit like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree.  We took pity on them, paid $1 for all four and threw them in our garden just to save their little lives.  Now they’re all crazy huge!  What’s with that?

What’s a gardener to do?  I found some good advice in the Plain Dealer article “Taking late-season care of tomato plants” (08/11/11).  According to Mr. Lamp’l, I’m supposed to get in there and cut back those wild offshoots and “new suckers…that grow from the crotch”.  I’m also supposed to “watch for disease” and “by now the first generation of caterpillars  will have dropped to the soil, pupated and emerged as sphinx…,” not to mention keeping an eye out for parasitic braconid wasps, hornworms [lovely illustration included] and the “smooth, oval, light-green eggs…on the lower sides of the leaves.”  I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me want to jump right in and fix my tomatoe issues.  No matter, I’m going to don my rubber floral-patterned garden boots (they’re so cute) and my rubbery green garden gloves (necessary, not so cute) and my sharpened clippers.  Then I'm going to muster up some gumption to tackle those gangly grappling green plants and their associated critters and creatures.  Assuming I don’t kill myself stepping over the fence (for the record, I often clip the fence with my oversized -- but cute -- boots landing full face either in or out of the garden) and that I don't get eaten alive by hornworms or contract some parasitic disease, I’m planning on taking on those monstrous tomato plants today. 

Did you know there was actually a campy B movie back in 1978 called Attack of the Killer Tomatoes? See, someone else obviously had issues with tomatoes besides just me.  I’m going to get red tomatoes yet.  I promise.  I know you have to be careful what you wish for.  I envision thousands upon thousands of red tomatoes ripening all at once.  But that’s okay by me.  When it happens, I’ll do what I always do with my excess produce.  I donate it to Geauga Food Bank.  My neighbor and dear dear friend, Doris, volunteers there on Wednesdays.  *She says there are more families than ever in need of food donations.  Being unemployed, I can relate.  It makes me even more cognizant of the need to help others.  Thus, the more tomatoes, the merrier.  All that I can say now to my tomatoes is, “Bring it on!”

*Since I have time on my hands AND if you have excess produce in your garden AND if you want me to pick it up for the food bank, just say the word and I'll come get it.

The Plain Dealer: Inside & Out

Urban Growers:

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