How NOT to Plant Tomatoes

My tomatoes don’t look so hot.

I’ve said many times on this blog that I am a newbie at vegetable gardening.  The whole tomato thing is a prime example of my inexperience. 

I was so proud of my $1.50 pots – nice 12″ black plastic.  BAD CHOICE.  I planted my beautiful locally grown tomato plants, purchased from a locally owned garden center in my locally purchased garden soil and they were doing great – until the weather started warming up, that is.  An acquaintance who happens to be a master gardener mentioned that black plastic pots tend to retain the heat of the sun and will actually cook the roots of whatever is planted in them. 

Cooked tomatos

Cooked tomatoes

She suggested that the pots be buried.  I’ve been putting it off and putting it off and putting it off.  But yesterday I noticed that even after an overnight blessing of rain, that the leaves were drooping badly, turning yellow at the bottom and a couple of the small Romas were actually rotting on the vine!   I guess she was right – darn it!

So, I pull out the shovel and go to work trying to dig a hole.  Now, keep in mind that I have absolutely no upper body strength and we have hard pack clay for dirt.  My DH was kind enough to get out his phD – post hole digger – and promptly dug six holes for my tomato pots.  When we picked up each pot, low and behold, the roots were growing out the small hole in the bottom and were growing into the paving stones!  Even I should have known to drill holes in the bottom of the pots.  I really amaze myself with my own stupidity sometimes!  Anyway, he cut out the bottom of each pot and put a little garden soil in the hole, added a little water and set the whole thing, cage and all, into the ground.  I watered them well and went inside. 

A second chance at life

A second chance at life

I was a little afraid to peak out my kitchen window this morning, but I was happy to see that the plants had perked up overnight.  So, I’m hoping that getting the pots out of the heat of the sun and giving the roots room to grow will save my tomatos.  I need to pull off the bad parts and tie up a couple of places that are drooping badly, but otherwise, maybe they will actually make it. 

I will leave the pots in the ground when the season is over and next year just pull them out, amend the soil left behind and plant my tomatos directly in the ground where they should have been in the first place!  I didn’t want to put them in my new raised beds for fear they would crowd out other plants, but I see now that I could have dedicated an entire bed to them.  Oh, well, this is trial and error after all and this has been a HUGE error, but hopefully, one corrected and learned from. 

Keep it simple.

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