You say tomato
Sunday July 12th 2009, 5:56 pm
Filed under: My Garden

imgp8001A week or so ago, I was watering my two tomato plants.  I keep adding more tomato cages around them as they grow.  One is an heirloom variety.  The other I have no idea what type it is:  I looked at the baby plant in the nursery awhile back and decided, okay, then, whatever you are, surprise me.

Given a hose that doesn’t reach the spot and a contractor who shut off the nearer outside water valve in such a way I can’t get it open again, this involves my filling old milk jugs with water and dousing them on a near-daily basis.  That’s okay; it keeps me actively involved in the process of nurturing them.  Leaves starting to droop on a hot day? I’m on it.

But I am a klutz. Which is how I managed, to my great grief at the time, to lose my balance and break off a branch that had two layers of flowers and the tiniest beginnings of a tomato on it.

Lost.  Crum.

imgp7994But I had some memory way back in the brain of some gardening advice I read once who knows where or when that tomato branches can sprout their own roots, and took that broken piece with its ugly jagged gash and stuck it hopefully in a small flower vase.  Couldn’t hurt.

It looked so small and so woebegone.  All that potential it could have had if I’d been more careful.  In the intertwined leaves outside, I wasn’t even sure which plant it had come off of and didn’t want to spend the time I can’t risk in the sun to track it back to the main stem to find out.

I put it by the window and checked it daily, and it didn’t die, but it seemed to just sit there.

Till two days ago, when there was the tentative small white start of a single root in the water if you looked close enough.

Today there are twenty-four, including a cluster at the ragged bottom, spreading out, searching for nutrients. That 1 cm tomato is now a third of an inch across, a new second one is 2 cm across so far, and the plant suddenly seems to be growing like dandelions.

Tomorrow I go looking for a large pot to plant it in so that I can have it growing next to the house.  I’m thinking that will help keep its growing season going longer; it’s getting a late start for reaching full size, and should it get cold enough to kill off the parent plant in the yard, this one might just keep on going strong from the warmth radiating from our home.

Life has its own inner strength.  One little sprig of tomato growing steadily now into full root and bloom, saying quietly, you don’t know the outcome till it begins to show.  Never give up.

15 Comments so far
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And here I thought I was the only klutz in the world! I am impressed with you and your garden. Am used to grow vegetables out back until she got to the point where she could no longer do it.

And the phrase “Never give up” could apply also to me. I am walking very slowly and tentatively, and I have to fight the urge to just sit down and … something — I dunno. But Cliff keeps telling me to keep going, so I do.


The story has it that that the Seattle Symphony would be playing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Also, according to the story, there is a long stretch in that symphony where the bass strings have nothing to play. So one of the bass players said to the others, “Why don’t we slip off stage during that long stretch instead of just sitting there like lumps.” And the others agree. So during the concert that is what the bass players do. Once back stage, the instigator says, “We have lots of time. Let’s go across the street for a beer.” They all agree, go across to the bar, and have a beer. And another. One of the other bass players is getting a little nervous, and suggests they get back on stage. But the instigator says, “Relax, we have lots of time. I timed this whole thing out, and besides, I tied a string around the conductor’s score, so he will have to slow down when he gets to that part. Let’s have another beer.” And they do. By the time they head back to the concert hall, they are a bit on the tipsy side. As they come back on stage, they can see that the conductor is absolutely furious. As well he should be. For here it is — the last of the Ninth, the score is tied, and the basses are loaded!

Comment by Don Meyer 07.12.09 @ 8:06 pm

It’s the “scrap quilt” of vegis. I love it!

Comment by Barbara-Kay 07.12.09 @ 8:07 pm

Yay roots!!! Grow tomatoes grow!! 🙂

Comment by Kelli 07.12.09 @ 9:34 pm

And so it is with many things in life, given half a chance, they reach or exceed their full potential!! I would have done the same thing, and so cool it will extend your tomato season 🙂

Comment by Cathy (catsandyarn on ravelry) 07.12.09 @ 10:34 pm

A good way to water the plant slowly is to poke a tiny hole in the bottom of the milk jug. It will not leak much while you carry it, particularly if you screw the cap on the jug. Then, when you set the jug down at the base of the plant it will slowly seep water. That way, the plant gets to drink all the water, none flows away, and you spend less time standing in the sun.

As for the roots thing, I am going to break a branch off my tomato plant in the morning, and give it a try!

Comment by Laura 07.13.09 @ 1:07 am

I really like Laura’s idea of the milk jug watering. I might try it on my tomato plant.

Interesting to know you can start tomatoes that way.

Comment by Laura 07.13.09 @ 5:07 am

I know how you felt when the branch broke off. I have orchids growing in my garden window in my kitchen and when a few are blooming they get to spend some time in other parts of the house to spread their cheer around. One time I was moving a tender plant full of flowers and in my klutziness I broke the branch off the plant. DARN! They take so long to grow. I could have kicked myself. Instead, I put it into a vase of water and enjoyed the flowers for almost a month longer. They didn’t root (I knew they wouldn’t) but I still enjoyed the blossoms. Good work little tomato!

Comment by Jody M 07.13.09 @ 6:02 am

Amazing way to clone a tomato vine!
Brilliant idea!

Comment by susan 07.13.09 @ 6:08 am

Neato! I’ll be watching to see what the little sprig does.

Comment by Channon 07.13.09 @ 6:11 am

And you likely already know that the tomato plant can go down into the pot as far as possible. Just break off any leaves at the bottom. Only a few leaves need to peek out at the top. That way the whole stem will grow leaves and you will get a far bushier, stronger plant. I love the tomatoes. Often they seed themselves here even though we get temperatures in the teens in winter!

Comment by Judy 07.13.09 @ 6:18 am

Guideposts to living a good life. There are days I don’t have to search for a meditation, I just read you.

Comment by Leslie 07.13.09 @ 6:49 am

Adding to what Judy said, I know you don’t want to do it, but it would strengthen the plant if you removed the flowers. (I know, I’m raining on your parade.)

I had a klutzy moment today. I dropped one of my bags of groceries trying to open the back gate. CRASH (I won’t tell you what I uttered, you have a nice blog). Yup, it was the bag with the eggs. And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men…. Your klutzy garden moment has a happier ending.

Comment by LynnM 07.13.09 @ 8:36 am

That is amazing! Usually when there are blossoms and fruit on a stem, the roots are much less likely to start. I think it felt you wanting it to thrive :-}

Comment by Diana Troldahl 07.13.09 @ 8:56 am

And then there were three tomato plants…cool.
Ditto Laura’s milk jug waterin’ method. If waterin’ every 5 days is not an option then a slow, steady drip is best.

Comment by Toni Smoky-Mountains 07.13.09 @ 9:17 am

I am doing my best to not give up, I promise.

I have learned too that life hangs on dearly in plants. I couldn’t bring myself to throw a palm tree away and tried to ignore it for the longest time, watering it not half as much as the other plants. It never died.

Even stronger than that: the head of the plant got too big for the trunk and broke off, two years ago. So now, we have more palm trees than I had bargained for – the top which I put in water, more leaves at the new top and two more that grew from the roots.

My husband kinda adopted that plant when he was here before. He’ll be happy to reunite with more than what he left behind. lol

Comment by Suzanne 07.13.09 @ 9:55 am

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