July 20, 2021
After another rough start, my containers are producing fruit. My Big Boys and Lemon Boys are now producing, as are my Red and Orange Sweet Peppers. These are even getting large, although some of the fruit is blemished. My crop began with my two cherry tomatoes (var. Super Sweet 100) about a month ago. While they are not as large as the varieties found in the local stores (about dime size), they have an amazing taste. The vines are covered with clusters of tomatoes that I have been picking every day or two. I am interested to see how long they can continue to provide this amount of fruit.
When I looked online, it confirmed that homegrown tomatoes are more flavorful than store-bought tomatoes. The store tomatoes (and vegetables) are grown to be uniform in size for pack-ability, durable to ship, and to stay fresh for a long time. Any blemished produce is excluded from shipment because they do not sell well in the store. The article mentioned differences you may find in your homegrown varieties. Your vegetables will not have a consistent appearance, even if they come from the same seed packet. You can also grow different varieties of vegetables that are not grown commercially. Your vegetables will not store as long, but you have the advantage of “pick and use.” While your vegetables may not get as big, they do have more flavor and crunch. The biggest advantage of home grown is you can decide what plants, how many, and when you want to grow. I tend to concentrate on tomatoes and peppers because that is what I buy most in the store. The word is still out on my onions.
When I began my container garden last year I struggled with the proper amount of soil, food, and water to get the best results. One of my problems was blossom rot. I discovered there were two causes, either too much water, or too little water. I seem to have overcome that difficulty this year, in part by rubbing the vestigial blossom off the fruit before it can cause rot. While my cherry plants are growing well, the intense rain over the last weeks has caused another malady, the fruit has begun to split. Tomatoes split due to fluctuations in the amount of water they receive. When tomatoes grow in drought conditions with little supplemental water, a heavy rain can cause the insides of the tomatoes to grow faster than the outer skin, resulting in the tomatoes cracking. This may also happen with too little water, as the skin may dry out and crack. Again, this means the plant is getting either too much or too little water. I need to be vigilant in monitoring my containers.
Thoughts: I came across an article several weeks ago that touted the advantage of community gardens. Not only did these gardens provide needed vegetables, but they also illustrated how blemished fruit is a natural occurrence. When you grow your own, you pick the blemished fruit, perhaps cut around the flaw, and serve it anyway, only to be amazed that the blemished fruit still has the same great taste. Like vegetables in the store, much of our acceptance of people is based on appearance. We often choose our friends, co-workers, and even acquaintances based on outward attributes. When we take the time to look beyond whatever we may define as blemished, we often find people can be amazing as well. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.