I am a failure. I have failed for the last two years. It wasn’t always like that.  In the beginning I was successful. Neighbors eagerly awaited my treasures.  I joyfully shared. However, for the last two years I have had great difficulty producing quality tomatoes.

Last year everyone said it was too dry. Tomatoes need lots of water. I watered. Puny tomatoes were all I got. This year they said it was too wet. Tomatoes need drier weather. I could not suck the water from the ground. Minuscule tomatoes were all I got.

It's hard to believe that this tomato is not much bigger than my cherry tomatoes.

It’s hard to believe that this tomato is not much bigger than my cherry tomatoes.

Summer is made for BLT sandwiches. They have the perfect combination of crunch, salty, and moisture. There is one element that makes or breaks a BLT – the tomato MUST be fresh from the garden. Hothouse tomatoes lack the pizzazz of a home-grown ripe tomato.

Every summer I purchase two tomato plants for my mini garden. I am always confused by all the varieties but I read the tags carefully. I am looking for a large, meaty, early ripening, tomato who will produce until the first frost. Is that asking for too much? I didn’t think so. This year I bought a Big Boy and a Red Beefsteak plus I added a cherry tomato plant.

Weekly I checked my plants. I staked them up when they grew. I watered, I fertilized with tomato plant food. I inspected them for the dreaded tomato worms. (Hmmm, what does it mean when tomato worms don’t invade your plants?) Slowly the blossoms turned into midget balls. The midget balls grew up to be ping pong ball size. This was not what I would call a Big Boy or a Beefsteak.

Finally a tomato of size appeared. I eagerly watched it get bigger and bigger. The color grew brighter and brighter. My excitement was mounting. My mouth was watering for that perfect BLT.

Isn't it lovely?

Isn’t it lovely?

The day had come to harvest this bit of delight. My hand reached down to test the firmness of the flesh when I saw it. A roly poly waddled out from an opening on the underside. Upon further inspection, there was evidence that a slug had chewed its way in and the gnats were enjoying a smorgasbord. Curses! My one tomato of size had been hijacked by nature.

My disappointment could be heard throughout the neighborhood when I discovered this.

My disappointment could be heard throughout the neighborhood when I discovered this.

Thankfully my neighbor is having better luck with his plants. He shared several tomatoes. BLT is back on the menu!

You should have no problem discerning which tomatoes I grew and which ones were gifted to me. :-)

You should have no problem discerning which tomatoes I grew and which ones were gifted to me. 🙂

18 thoughts on “Failed

  1. Totally loved your word choice as you expressed your feelings throughout the piece. Although I feel terrible for your tragedy, I chuckled at phrases like this: “Curses! My one tomato of size had been hijacked by nature.” Wonderful personification! Totally enjoyed your slice!

  2. Elsie,
    Like you, I planted few tomato plants!
    Like you, I am a failure! We’ve only had one miserable tomato produced so far and it looks puny! There are now aphids on them and now the deer have bitten the parts off the top of the plants growing beyond the stake baskets! I could contribute to your scream!
    Your story made me chuckle!

  3. I love the way you write. Hands down. One of my favorites. But… did you ask the neighbor how he got his to grow so well? I want the problem of this story to be solved. 🙂

  4. I am still laughing. I love that the neighborhood got to hear your pain. I could almost imagine your disgust at the sight of the underside of that tomato. Glad you found some for your BLT’s though…very important!

  5. Oh, how sad! It was so sad I had to laugh! There is nothing like a sweet, meaty, warm tomato fresh from the garden! I thought Phillip’s comment was great. You need a herd of tomato plants. I know you’ll miss your bike, but for the sake of the BLT, it may need to be parked next summer so you can tend the herd!

  6. Terje says:

    Tomatos, tomatoes, big, small, sometimes they grow, sometimes they don’t. Since I don’t have any gardening skills, I admire anyone who has the patience to daily take care of plants. Good luck for next year.

  7. LOL. We always had these problems too. And I think there is something to Phillip’s comment about tomatoes being competitive. Seems like we got better tomatoes when we had a bigger garden. Or maybe we just had more to choose from 🙂 My solution, quit planting them and let the neighbors share. Those people with big gardens always have too much as the season progresses

  8. Yikes…and curses indeed! How aggravating, but lucky for us that you were able to find the humor in it all to share with us and make us laugh,. Thanks, Elsie!

  9. Elsie, I had the same problem here in Indiana–punyness and bugs. I had 10 plants in a garden–competition didn’t help them! I like Rutgers–nice size and early tomato. I also like Big Boy and Early Girl. My menfolk required Beefsteak. They did very poorly–not really so red and few tomatoes. I did better last year in the drought–watering every other day all summer. This year, wetter but a lot of nights were cool(50’s), and days were in the 60’s at times–tomatoes hate coolness! At least you have backup neighbors. Here’s to BLT’s and next year!

  10. Phillip says:

    So here’s your problem. The tomato (Solanum lycopedicum) is native to Mexico, and like other new world species such as the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratoriums) and the American Bison (Bison bison) they only thrive when they are in huge flocks or herds. Not in ‘micro’ gardens. Not in “here is my two tomato plant” patch! They are a very competitive plant and need the challenge of other like minded plants to urge them on! So next year, plant a much bigger garden, stay at home, put the silly bike in garage, channel your inner Northern European-dirt under the fingernails self and see what happens.
    Here is my favorite tomato quote: “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”. (Miles Kington)

  11. Big Boys, my dad always grew them. Not to gloat, but our unbelievably sunny summer has me still eating the golden cherubs from my tomato plant. No tomatoes for BLT’s though, just a burst of fresh tomato taste for lunch every day! As always, loved your story and the pictures. Your golden lines and the pictures send us on a visual journey every week.

  12. I haven’t grown tomatoes for years, but the tomato worms were often the bain of the plants. They worked so fast! So sorry for your plight, Elsie. Could it be location? So happy you have a good neighbor! BLTs are the best!

  13. Judy C. says:

    Yes, there is nothing like a home-grown tomato for that summertime treat. I gave up growing tomatoes several years ago, after many failures – this Ozark weather and soil is not conducive to growing tomatoes (at least for me). But, it did offer up a great slice.

  14. You had me chuckling out loud this morning. What a treat to start the day with laughter. Midget balls? Ping pong balls? This is not what you would call a Big Boy or a Beefsteak? I am lucky enough to even be able to imagine your voice as you tell this story to me across miles. Better luck with your tomatoes next year…either way I am sure they will make for a good story (which can be just as satisfying as the perfect BLT)!

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