‘Farmer Bob Ann’ on growing tomatoes and more

Published 3:34 pm Thursday, August 9, 2012

This week I tied up the tomato plants for the first time after getting all the sticks in place to support them. I’m trying to grow a few again this year, although my first crop last year wasn’t exactly what one would call bountiful.

You may recall I unintentionally purchased German Striped tomato plants instead of the more familiar varieties usually grown in these parts. When I bought them, I had picked out some of a variety that grows well in this area. I sat them down while I went inside the store to pay and when I came out, I picked up what I thought were my plants and took them home.

As I started to plant, I read the labels and discovered they were not what I had picked out. However, the plot was ready and the plants were healthy, so I planted them. They grew beautifully and I had some of the prettiest tomato plants you have ever seen – very tall, too. Not that many tomatoes, but the few they produced were good — a mixed yellow and red variety.

Now my daddy was an expert tomato grower and both my brothers are very successful at growing those delicious red globes, not to mention my husband, who always had a great garden crop, including lots of tomatoes.

I had a hard time deciding if I wanted to try to grow them again. After all, my brother Mike grows tons of tomatoes, so the supply was definitely there — without all the hard work on my part.

I finally made up my mind to try again. I got my little square foot garden plot cleaned out and ready, bought a few tomato plants and got them in the ground. A couple days later, along comes a big wind and pouring rain, which just utterly destroyed them. That was discouraging, but not defeating. I went back to the nursery and bought more plants, making sure once again I got the right kind.

I visited with my brother on the way home and was telling him about my experience with the first plants and how I was going home to replant. He said he was coming up to my house with everything necessary to plant them for me.

Such luck and such a sweet brother! Rob is not able to do gardening anymore and I just hate to give it up completely. I really like having produce growing just outside the back door, ready when I want it.

“I’m going to show you how Daddy grew tomatoes, how Bill grew them and how I grow them. We all use the same method and I assure you, you will have tomatoes, barring the elements,” he said.

I’d always heard Daddy say that when farming, you are battling not only the weather, disease and insects, but also the varmints, so growing a successful garden takes a little luck along with a lot of knowhow. The deer are really bad around here, but they didn’t touch the tomatoes last year.

He got the plants in the ground, all the while telling me what he was doing and why. It was a lot of work and I can see why my effort was less than successful. As a small person (and an older one), I just don’t have the physical strength it takes to dig those deep holes in the ground. When he got through, there were 15 beautiful tomato plants in the ground. He gave further instructions about “what to do when.”

I have enjoyed watching those plants grow and am thrilled to see so many little yellow blooms which hopefully will become large, round, ripe, red delicious tomatoes. (I can almost taste them!) There’s nothing quite like the taste of that first juicy, ripe tomato of the season.

Since then, I have planted some bell pepper plants in one of the flower beds and I also set out some parsley, oregano, chives and rosemary plants. I may add some others as well. I’ve never grown herbs, but look forward to cooking with some fresh ones.

Meanwhile, the blueberries are beginning to swell and turn deep red and into blue, so I’m going to be busy with the “crops” again. The figs will ripen not long after the blueberries finish. The peach trees were budding when the last freezing weather came, so our peaches will be few and far between.

I’m getting ready to take last year’s blueberries out of the freezer and make jelly, making room for this year’s crop. I also canned a lot of blueberries and they have been wonderful.

So there you have it! That’s the latest agriculture report from “Farmer Bob Ann” and I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the tomato patch and the herbs.

And from this mother, grandmother and great-grandmother to the rest of you, have a wonderful Mother’s Day! Let your kids cook for you for a change!

Retired Lifestyle Editor Bob Ann Breland, a resident of Pine, writes a weekly column and may be contacted at bobann_b@yahoo.com.