As I have mentioned before, my earliest memory is one of being in the tomato garden with Harriet.  I could not have been more than 3 years old at the time. Maybe this explains why I love tomatoes so very, very much. Something about that day must have made me take notice of the yummy red fruits. It could also be that grandmother made a big event out of it. I had a big sun hat, just like she did, I had gloves, just like she did, and I had a pail, just like she did. She would point to the tomatoes that needed picking and I would reach in and pluck them off the plant and gently place them in my bucket the way she showed me.

Now, if you ask her, she may have a different memory of the event, I was three after all. Being the mother of a very nearly 3 year old, I know he rarely does anything gently, so I suspect that maybe I didn’t either. In fact, just this past week I had left a tomato on the counter and had to go to another room for some reason, and came back to find the tomato squeezed to death all over the couch slip cover that I had just washed a few days ago.

I also remember her pointing out a very large, elaborate spider web among the plants with a big fat spider sitting in the center of it. She didn’t freak out or try to kill it, she instead told me how pretty she was and that she had work to do so we left her alone.

I have never been able to get enough tomatoes in the summer time! It’s worse in the winter when the store bought ones are hard and watery. I love,

love,

love,

love, LOVE,

a nice, fat, ripe, juicy,

oh and warm, sun warm,

tomato right off the vine!

There is nothing quite like it. I tried growing a cherry tomato plant last summer, but ended up with a 6 foot tall  plant and three little tomatoes. I knew I had done something wrong, but wasn’t sure what it was. Thanks to a new friend, hopefully I will have better success this summer. At an event at my husbands chiropractic office a few weeks ago, I made a new friend, Penny.

Penny makes and sells these nifty little, self watering containers that you can container garden in.

Robert and I bought a couple and she gave us some free tomato plants to go with them, and some great information about soil prep for the containers as well.

You can contact Penny at Garden Girl on Facebook if you are interested in one of these little gems.

So, being the new blogger that I am, I took pictures of Ruthie and I making our little container garden on the back porch. Maybe what we learned will help some other would be gardeners as well.

First we started with some organic soil.

Now, what I learned about last year is that the soil I used was probably too high in nitrogen, and that tomato plants prefer phosphates, so we added some goodies to the dirt.

We started with Bone Meal. See, it says right there on the  package, pure source of Phosphorus. Apparently phosphorus encourages better root growth. My plant last year must have had some sad phosphorus free roots.

Here’s my little helper trying to mix it all in real good!

Next we added egg shells, something we have plenty of around here since I crave eggs every morning for breakfast at 7 months pregnant. This was Ruthie’s favorite part. Go figure, she got a real kick out of mashing up the shells and mixing them in. She was very impressed that they could be used to feed plants.

The next step was to add some organic plant food. Notice in the second picture, the numbers at the bottom of the box. Penny explained that you wanted the middle number to be the highest. That indicates more phosphates.

Now it was time to add the vermiculite. (You should hear Ruthie say this word! I love it!) My understanding is that this ingredient keeps the soil loose. You don’t want your soil all packed down. It’s not good for those growing roots you want to establish.

Once Ruthie and I had it all mixed up and blended well, we then filled our containers and were ready to plant.  These were heirloom plants she gave us and she had started the seedlings in handy little pot made of organic material. We just cut open the bottom of the container and then planted the plant all the way up to the bottom set of leaves.

We also put small tomato cages around them so that as they grow, they will have some structural support.

Along the way, Ruthie got a little bored and began digging out my  old flower pots for me instead.

Good thing too because I had some herbs to plant that afternoon too! Basil, cinnamon basil, lemon verbena, spearmint, peppermint, and one sweet little marigold given to me by Nate on mother’s day.

Looks like it is going to be a yummy summer! I’ll keep you posted on the tomato project as the weeks go by. (especially if I get more than 3 tomatoes this year!)

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