The Unscientific Tomato Experiment
Unscientific because there are way too many variables at stake with these two tomato plants. However, the results of this experiment are definitely enough to make me pause and give some thought to next year’s garden.
Far and away, THE healthiest tomato plant in my garden is the one that’s not in the garden. It’s my Valiant. The one that was extremely anemic, so it didn’t even merit planting in the garden. On a lark, I planted it, along with several others in the side garden bed, just to see what would happen. They were summarily snapped or nibbled off by rabbits. The Valiant was the lone survivor- but even he was snapped off at the soil line. There was no plant- just a stub of stem. I wrote it off, but then a few days later discovered that this little plant was struggling to sustain life- it had a new branch and teeny-tiny leaves.
It’s absolutely beautiful. It is the healthiest plant in my yard, and it is loaded with large clusters of good-sized tomatoes. The soil here has been worked two years in a row with composted manure, but it still has a long way to go. And yet, this tomato plant is just thriving! It is loaded with large, tennis-to-softball sized fruit.
My Valiant plant in the garden, however is anemic and struggling. It’s put out very little fruit, and what is still on the plant is small- no bigger than a baseball, but probably closer to a golf ball.
Same yard, same composted manure, same fertilizer schedule going on here. But there is one majorly big difference. The awesome Valiant plant is planted directly in the ground. The wimpy Valiant plant is in a raised bed. I’ve long known that tomatoes prefer to be in the ground versus in pots, but in-ground versus raised beds isn’t that different. Especially when the beds are like mine- directly on the soil.
I don’t have a die-hard conclusion here, just observation. On the one hand, the awesome plant experienced major trauma- supposedly tomato plants thrive with a bit of trauma in their lives. That alone could explain the vibrancy of the plant.
And yet I cannot dismiss the idea that maybe my struggling tomato plants simply don’t like the raised beds.
But on the other hand, last year my plants were in the ground and produced practically nothing. Though the soil was dismal at best last year.
So we’ll see. Maybe next year will be a hybrid of some tomatoes in raised beds, and some directly in the ground. But that means this must be given serious thought now- as I have several bulbs of garlic to plant this fall, and I’m unsure where those will grow best.