With two days left until summer, I would like to give you the update on my spring tomato attempt.
Here’s what did work this season: I got about a dozen and a half small creole tomatoes from my garden! I started them indoors from seed I bought at Perino’s Garden Center shortly after Mardi Gras, so late February. I harvested the first on June 3, and I may still get a few more in the next couple of days.
But, a lot didn’t work, and that has left me wondering: Why did my seedlings get “leggy” even though I was using grown lights? What heartless creature chewed through the stems of my little babies, felling them like a lumberjack with a chainsaw, despite my carefully scattered diatomaceous earth?
Why did only one of the surviving eight plants produce tomatoes? Should I have pinched off the “suckers” on these plants?
Should I have done a pH test on my soil? Should I have fertilized more heavily?
Why didn’t I notice the stink bugs until it was too late? How could I ignore the tomato hornworms until a third of the foliage was gone?
Should I take these plants out now and replant in the fall, or continue watering for the duration of the summer, knowing it’s too hot for fruit to set?
So, yes. A lot of unanswered questions!
I’m feeling pretty discouraged, with so very little to show for my efforts this season. A friend recommended a book to me by LSU AgCenter horticulturalist, Kathryn K. Fontenot, called “The Louisiana Urban Gardener,” and it is on my bedside table now.
I hate to admit it, but it seems like if I’m going to take it to the next level, I will have to get more serious about the science, including pH testing, proper application of fertilizer, and organic pest control. It’s something I’ve resisted so far, just because it takes so much more discipline than I’ve been applying. Not to mention funds.
“Pest free gardens are sought but seldom found because of Louisiana’s hot, humid climate,” wryly comment the writers of LSU AgCenter’s pamphlet on tomatoes. They are not kidding! Well, since this is Louisiana, I don’t have to wait a full year to try again. I will make another attempt in the fall, so stay tuned for more tomato adventures!