The Trouble With Tomatoes

Tomatoes are one of those things that you just shouldn’t even bother buying in the winter. They just plain suck.

Two years ago a friend of mine gifted us with 15 to 20 tomato plants.  We weren’t prepared and since we didn’t have any money invested we just dug a big old hole and planted them all. It was good ground so they did really well.

I was hooked.

Last year I started my own tomatoes from seed. They did very well.  I was jealous though because my mom had picked up a plant from the nursery that was three times the size of mine and therefore produced earlier.

I decided that I would start mine earlier this year so that I could get a jump on the season.  Now, there’s earlier and then there’s EARLIER.

I think I started too early.  I also think that the grow lights that I used this year were so much more powerful that they grew so much more.  Couple that with the crazy spring that we’ve had, I ended up with plants that were too tall.  If I had started at the same time as last year, and potted them up at the appropriate time I’d be set right now.  That didn’t happen.

I planted my tomatoes this weekend and I could just cry.  Half of them have broken off at the top because they were so tall and there was no way that I could get a hole dug deep enough to save them.  And what pitiful specimens are left from that have gotten sunburned because it is so bleeding hot so early in the year.

All that time and effort.  Gone.

What now?

I have had to do some analysis of the situation and honestly, some soul searching as well and here is what I think went wrong.

  • Started too early.  Straight up too early.  I got my seeds and my lights and I was just way too eager to get started.  Patience is not one of my virtues.  Not by a long shot.

  • Different lights.  Last year I had one 24″ portable fluorescent light.  This year I had two four foot shop lights with two tubes each.  I think the specs on the tubes would show a much greater output this year as opposed to last.

  • Kansas weather.  This one just kicked me in the pants.  We decided to put in two new raised beds and until they were complete, there was nowhere to plant.  Our timing was completely off.  We were just about ready to get started and surprise!  Snow in April.  Two weeks of spring and then upper 80s in early May.  Serously?


Sigh.  Luckily, I did plant some back-ups about a month ago and I plan to plant some more.  Maybe this year isn’t a total bust.  I will get on the interwebs and do some research regarding the best methods to reverse the damage of impatience in gardening.

Fingers crossed…


One Comment

  • Jacqueline M Gard

    Tina, I loved this. All the reasons you named is exactly why I don’t plant tomatoes. I tried and failed many moons ago. Glad I’m not the only one that gets jipped because of poor planning and stupid Kansas weather. I feel your pain girl!

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