Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: We’re Growing More Than Tomatoes

Cherokee Purple
This indeterminate tomato variety was said to have originated from the Cherokee over 100 years ago.

Springtime has a way of promoting growth in so many ways.  We see the results of growth in plants as our surroundings turn from brown to green, and we see the growth in people as they try new things.  My friend and co-worker Shannon came to me one day and told me she wanted to plant tomatoes, but she had never grown anything….ever.  I had just found out that our Master Gardener speaker for April was a man known for his fabulous tomatoes.  We made a plan to attend together.

Our speaker, Sputt Garnett of Yum Yum, TN, explained everything we ever wanted to know about tomatoes.  I never really understood the difference between determinate and indeterminate, and I had certainly never seen tomato varieties like Black Prince.  We were especially enthralled with the idea of the heirloom variety tomato, so we each purchased one Cherokee Purple tomato plant at the end of the workshop.

I explained to Shannon that I only had one growing season of tomatoes under my belt.  I had planted them from seed last year during my first garden experience and had good success.  Our excitement over tomatoes surpassed our need for dessert, so we headed next door to Wal-Mart to look at some plants.  We explored the varieties but left the store with a $5.00 purchase: one envelope of Rutgers tomato seeds and one Jiffy Seed Starter Greenhouse.

If everyone who walked through the halls of a school could be this excited about learning, what a world we would have.

The miniature plants eventually grew out of the greenhouse container and had to be transplanted to larger pots.  I left them outside to face the elements and wind for a couple of weeks.  In the meantime, Shannon and her husband started working on her raised garden bed in her backyard.  By May 1, her garden was ready to receive plants.

Shannon and her husband removed the grass on the inside and filled it with good soil and compost purchased from a local store.  Shannon carefully added tomato plants and a couple of other choice vegetables to her first garden.  She added Marigolds to help keep insects away from her precious heirlooms.

Shannon is pleased with her first garden.  She has mentioned wanting to learn about composting (one of my favorite topics), and as her garden grows, she will eventually  be forced to learn about garden predators and how to avoid them.  I don’t want the Tomato Horn Worm to invade her garden, but I would pay money to see her face when she sees that monster for the first time.  Yikes!

Shannon has looked to me as an expert on tomatoes, but I am only one garden ahead of her, so I am far from “expert” status.  I can only tell her about my one growing season of experiences.  But this is about more than growing tomatoes.  This is also about growing a friendship… and maybe even about growing a community of people who love learning about something new.  It’s about all people turning from brown to green as they grow and develop their potential in all areas of life.

How does your garden grow?

Shannon's garden
Shannon's first garden is growing strong... just like Shannon.