Last summer I bought six indeterminate grape tomato plants at Costco. They did splendidly. We had, literally, more tiny tomatoes than we could use and, when I took the plants down in October, they were still covered in flowers and unripe tomatoes. The plants also grew much bigger than we’d anticipated and, by the end of summer, they were an unruly mess.
This year I bought some seven foot tall rebars to use as stakes. Costco didn’t have the tomatoes I’d purchased last year so I went to Fortino (the local incarnation of Loblaws) and bought four pots of generic tomato plants; two that would have small fruit and two that would have slightly larger ones. There were two plants in a couple of pots so I ended up with six large pots of plants. I drove the rebars into the ground and, like a farmer, I waited.
The plants did very well. There were tiny green tomatoes sooner than I’d seen them last year. We tied them to the stakes. There were also, I noticed, a couple of tiny tomato plants poking up from the ground beside the pots. Volunteers, gardeners call them. Seedlings from last year’s crop. I left them. Costs nothing, I reasoned. Maybe they’ll fruit.
I took the plants down today, filling a garbage can with leaves, stems and great tomatoes. I harvested whatever tomatoes were showing colour. Many of them will ripen on the counter. Can you guess which plants bore the most usable fruit? Even without a four week head start the volunteer plants (turned out there were two) had as much ripe fruit as the others even though the others were still covered in bigger, beautiful unripe tomatoes.
My wife has already started the process of getting seeds from some of the volunteer tomatoes for next year. I’m sure there’s an esoteric lesson in this but I haven’t figured out what it is yet.
copyright ©2019 David Fawcett