“Lets start a garden!” “Think of all the fresh vegetables we could have!” “Sure it’s a lot of work, but how hard could it be?” These are actual statements that came out of my mouth earlier this year. I still want a garden, but my view on the topic and enthusiasm has changed considerably.
Thankfully I did not just dive into this venture headfirst – I tend to do that with things. Instead, Elizabeth and I decided that because it was pretty late in the season, maybe we should just start with a tomato plant. You know how parents get kids a goldfish before a dog to see if they can keep it alive and ease them into the responsibility of pet ownership? Same concept, but with plants… and we’re adults.
We got our tomato plant back in May. I chose it because it already had a little green tomato growing on it. We took it home and set it out by our decorative well, next to our house, where it would get plenty of sunlight. Then I watered it. If I knew anything about plants, it’s that they need water. Sticking to what I knew, I faithfully watered my plant everyday. Oh how happy I was when, after a couple days, I discovered I had not just one but four little tomatoes growing.
During the first week of June, I became busy with teaching summer school during the day, football camp in the afternoon and evening and finding time to be a student for my own summer class. I asked Elizabeth to water the tomato plant when she watered her flowers. Toward the end of the week, I noticed my plant was looking a bit rough and turning yellow. Obviously this was because my wife had not been watering it enough and I informed her of my deduction. After a short spat she said that I could, “water my own stupid plant.” Clearly this was her fault. Definitely not mine.
To make up for my wife’s mistake I began watering my tomatoes twice a day. Once in the morning before leaving for school and again in the afternoon when I got home. It’s wilting because it was thirsty so all I needed to do was add water. Gardening isn’t that hard. Much to my dismay, the plant did not rebound and even seemed to be getting worse. My few precious tomatoes started to get dark leathery spots on the bottom of them. Our crop was being devastated by some unknown plight!
Turns out, after talking to a co-worker about our apparent inability to care for a plant, Elizabeth discovered that, in fact, you do not need to water a tomato plant everyday. Not only that, but apparently you can actually OVER water tomatoes. Who knew? As it turns out, you only need to water tomatoes once or twice a week, and sometimes they don’t even need that. So, the fourteen waterings a week I was providing may have been a bit much.
At the urging of another friend that knows about such things, I took the plant out of the pot and planted it in the yard. Only time will tell if our plant can make a come back. One lone tomato remains unblemished. If nothing else, hopefully this experience will ensure that my wife and I are not so green when we plant a garden in the future.