Last year's tomato crop, so hopefully outlined in tomato madness (March 31, 2010) can only be described as a total flop. The five varieties purchased at the Farmers Market bore no fruit at all. The one volunteer plant, which I was training up into my woody old rosemary tree, bore one tough, thick-skinned, two-inch orb. Finally, the rainbow mix of cherry tomato seedlings never looked promising enough to transplant.
Meanwhile, my neighbor's two lush tomato plants produced countless beefsteak beauties, which we were given carte blanche to pick. Moreover, she had NO tomato worms. Nor did we, but then our plants hardly seemed worth molesting.
But wait! Whereas the 'Bush Goliath,' 'Brandywine,' 'San Diego,' and one of the 'Roma' plants had vanished completely by midsummer, the original volunteer, the 'Costoluto-Genovese,' and the other 'Roma' are in the running for stardom, along with a second volunteer from early 'fring.' In fact, we have picked and eaten three passable fruits from volunteer #1, and two from the 'Genovese.' Two fat Roma tomatoes are nearly ripe, and all four of the plants are blooming prolifically.
I have 'wintered over' tomatoes in the past, but never with much success. Traditionally they are "tender perennials, grown as annuals," but I have little to lose by letting them live. Of course they'll soon be joined by new plants from the Farmers Market, as 'tomato madness' strikes once again.
Other notable failures marred summer 2010's veggie harvest, and may be described in future posts.
But what of the successes?
- Creeping fig, the subject of my first post, overcame an unpromising start to climb up about 12 rows of bricks. It's not very wide, but I've supplemented it with a row of grass-like succulents whose name I do not know. This identification is a goal for 2011.
- Gopher purge, one of the tolerated euphorbiae, is standing up to 30" tall and bearing its strange flowers. I had never noticed the lavender tinge on its stems, but am finding it a great component in bouquets of purple sweet peas or freesias. I flame-seal the stems to avoid poisoning my featured flowers -- an extra effort that seems worthwhile, if only that it preserves the gopher purge.
- Last summer's Swiss chard is still bearing edible leaves and stems, and this year's SC seedlings will soon be ready to set out.