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Growing Tomatoes — By Tommy Purser

I think I’m going to have a bumper crop of tomatoes this year in my small raised garden in the backyard.
Last year was a washout. Got lots of stalks and leaves but only a few tomatoes. This year I did things differently and, while the season is still young, the start thus far is encouraging.
I have about 25 plants this year, about a dozen in my raised garden and the remainder scattered around my yard in key places.
Ever since I was a young man, I was a fan of the Better Boy variety. While I planted other varieties, my go-to tomato plant was the Better Boy.
This year, I decided to go a different route and perused the Burpee seed catalog to find an appropriate candidate. I settled on the Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato.
It is believed the variety was cultivated by the Cherokee Indians of Tennessee who, for generations, grew the crop, saved the seeds and planted year, after year, after year.
It’s color is not the traditional red but a deeper red, almost purple.
I started them from seed, which is time consuming but so much more rewarding. I nursed the tiny plants along, thinning them from the cups in which I had placed multiple seeds and, when the root system was sufficient, I transplanted them into my raised garden.
One plant in particular took off like a weed. It appeared that the spot I picked in the bed was more nutrient rich than other areas.
I’m a composter. For years, I’ve used yard waste, kitchen waste, manure, any kind of organic matter I can get my hands on to make my compost.
When I first started, some four decades ago, I turned out to be an utter failure. A lot of work with little to show for my efforts. But, over the years, I’ve learned a few things and the results have greatly improved.
While the base of my raised bed is compost, I add peat moss, Black Cow, etc., to improve it and this year seems to be the height of my improvement.
My plants are flourishing.
I’ve managed to battle off a couple of worm infestations, and things have settled in to an orderly progression.
Because I started from seeds and got a late start, I haven’t had too many mature tomatoes so far. Some of the store bought plants have given us some great tomato sandwiches. My started-from-seed Cherokee Purples have yielded on a couple of ripe tomatoes but there are loads of still-green Cherokees maturing on the vine to keep my tomato-loving good wife happy.
If she’s happy, mission accomplished.

1 Comment

  1. Robert M. Williams, Jr. on June 18, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Great column, Tommy! 😊

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