Saturday, July 28, 2012

Sail on Sweet 100

With so much heavy attention paid to butterflies this summer, it seems that plants have gotten short shrift. The thought arose yesterday when I saw the sad look of our tomato plants’ leaves and set about to water them. I started in sunshine but ended as heavy clouds rolled in and, in a short while, it rained and rained. The picture shows one of ours, a Sweet 100, known as a cherry tomato. All of our cultivars this year are of the kind known as being of “indeterminate growth,” one of three major groups. The other two are “cultivars of determinate growth” and “cultivars for special purposes.”

Indeterminate growth? It means that the plants just grow and grow, sending out new vines; they stop at last when the first frost comes. Unless you want them all over the place, intervention is necessary. Since its last “arrangement” the one I show strikes me as a kind of vegetative sculpture of a great clipper, complete with masts—and rigging supplied by New York Times and Wall Street Journal plastic covers. These can grow up to 10 feet tall; the one I’m showing is 5-1/2 feet now measured from the surface of the soil in the pot—the pot itself serving as the ship.

Determinate growth tomato plants have regularly-sized tomatoes; they’re called bush tomatoes and grow to about 4 feet in height. They die when the topmost buds turn into fruit—suggesting, alongside Richard Dawkins, that the plants just serve the fruit and the fruit just serves the genes. Sail on, Selfish Genes.

The special purpose cultivars have been developed to have dense and rather dry flesh—and these are raised by people who wish to make tomato sauce and paste. Sail on, Salsa Picante, one of our faves.


  1. It is great to see such a large harvest of tomatoes. It takes me back. Nowadays, the deer and varmints eat everything.

    1. City living, I see, does have some advantages...