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Help! Tomatoes and Gardening Misadventures!

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HELP! Gardening Misadventure. A comedy of errors.

1. One of the baby tomatoes snapped from the vine. My fault. It's very whitish-green, about two inches more or less around. Can I do anything for it? Is it going to ripen or rot? Do I plant it, since we're still late spring / early summer? Should it remain on the ground or be taken inside to sit on a counter or window sill? I'd like to save its seeds for next year, at least.

2. If a stem breaks from a tomato vine, will it root if the broken end is planted? (No, I haven't read the books I got yet.)

Which brings me to my tale of great misadventures yesterday and today.

The team of guys from the yard man I still use came by yesterday. They weeded and mowed. This included weeding out the grass that had invaded my garden plot (so much for that) and if the green onions had done anything...they're gone too. I am not actually unhappy about that, but I will talk to the guy during the week.

Well, otherwise, things seemed good, though they need to set their mowers higher.

So, OK, I got out there this afternoon, I started watering plants, and I discovered the wire frame I'd used to stake the largest tomato plant had fallen over again. (I doubt it was the yard men. The plant's top heavy.)

I set it up, but it wouldn't stay. I got it into my head to disentangle the frame and plant. Hahaha, oh, this is where the fun began. Pulling it up and over was not a particularly good idea, but pulling the plant out from under it was not much better. In the process of attempting either, I partly uprooted the poor plant. Oh, no! Eventually, I did get the vines disentangled, one way or another, and was left with a large mass of tomato vines slumped along the ground in a heap. And partly uprooted. And oh yes, I had managed to break off one tomato and several smaller stems, including one with a flower without a baby tomato yet.

Well, genius, now what?

Meanwhile, both cats are very happily exploring the yard, probably amused by the crazy human's antics.

Determined to do something right today, I moved the water hose to continue its job.

I went in, got the ball of string and my pocket knife, and grabbed the wooden stakes I had not yet used for bracing the tomatoes. Then the fun began again.

I found myself actually talking to the plant, apologizing to it. I staked the other two tomato plants, discovered one baby plant was under another and got uprooted, and replanted it. Aha, progress! But by now, I discovered I was not used to squatting, rooting around in the dirt, etc. I didn't know yet how long I'd been working, but it honestly didn't seem like it ought to be that much work.

Then I got back to the main plant, the one with the most tomatoes, and now, the one in the most danger of not surviving. After much more fumbling than there should have been, I got it staked from its many sprawling vines to a constrained mass in something vaguely like a column. It looks too cramped to me now. The three stakes are about a foot apart.

My main worry is whether I got the roots properly back in the ground with enough soil on them. I was going to go to the garden center (Lowe's or Wal-Mart or somewhere) anyway, this week, so -- another big bag of soil and a few more stakes go on the list.

I am worried. I hope the main tomato plant, with the most tomatoes, will survive being savaged by the sudden and inexplicable attack of the careless ape-like being. (There is probably a religious metaphor in there, but I don't feel like fooling with it right now. Maybe later.)

So -- If I did right, the tomato's root system will reassert itself and it will survive losing stems and being completely shaken and rearranged and confined. I sure hope so, because those several small, green-white baby tomatoes look good, and I really want to have homegrown tomatoes later. I will want to save the seeds. I've had good success so far this year.

The other plants appear OK. One has put out a couple of tomatoes and has flowers. The other, nothing yet. The baby plant that I replanted is still too small to produce.

I've learned two very important things: One, stake your tomatoes properly so you don't screw up the poor plant and aggravate the fool out of yourself for potentially losing a perfectly good plant and its produce. Two, I planted the tomatoes too close together. I'll know better next time.

After doing all this and being worn out, I put the hose on the garden plot again, hoping this would help the plants settle back in while they can, until I get to the garden center, probably Tuesday.

The two basil plants are growing great. They are both flowering. So not only will I have fresh basil to use, I may be able to keep it going over the winter.

The marigolds are also doing great. I moved a small plant that had been obscured by the tomatoes or basil.

Ahem, I clipped the neighbor's crepe myrtle where it was growing over my fence. (Don't tell her, lol!) I have no idea if the cuttings will root, but I guess I'm about to find out.

One plant has outgrown its pot and will be planted in the front or side yard.

My goal for this week is to get grass seed and start it in my front yard (bare grey dirt) and back yard (dead straw, clover, some grass, weeds, all mowed nearly to the roots) so that I might actually have a lawn again.

I still can't afford to replace the gates or back yard wooden fence. I hope I can this summer. I hate looking at it, and I'm very surprised my neighbors or the homeowner's association haven't yelled at me about it. ...But I suspect I'm not the only one, as it looks like several people in the neighborhood are trying to keep their homes up too, and letting some things go.

So -- Questions about tomatoes and crepe myrtle. Advice much appreciated.

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That sounds like a radishal solution.


Well, I got a little advice from gardening friends at one forum which I think I can actually follow.

I'm a babe in the woods about growing plants. I'm even more a babe in the woods about recognizing plants you'd find out in the woods.

My parents did some gardening when I was a kid. Heck, my dad grew up farming, and both sets of grandparents grew up from a long line of farmers. I must have a talent for it somewhere. I'm actually kinda proud of my efforts last year and this year, but I don't feel I really know anything yet about what I'm doing. LOL. I would bet that my parents and grandparents and a few friends were probably laughing their butts off up in heaven / happy hunting ground / wherever, watching me this afternoon. Heck, I thought it was pretty funny myself. I was just aggravated at the mauling I gave the poor innocent tomato plant. I really hope it makes it. ... Should I worry that I actually apologized to *a plant*? Especially considering that my purpose is to harvest the tomatoes it produces for my food? Too complicated for my noggin, for sure.

By the way, I'll have pictures sometime this week. If you see a tomato plant sobbing piteously or screaming vegetable obscenities at humanity, yep, that'd be the one.

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So you're saying I should go out to the woods and see who turnips? Well, if he's very Thoreau, that might be...very thorough, very nice.

I really do miss all those back country vacations when I was a boy.

Yes, I'd be amazed if I ran into the love of my life running around in the woods.

But I suppose it could be an in tents relationship.

Ow! Darn, somebody's throwing peanuts again.

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I'll stop laughing long enough to pass this on: If you tie your tomato plant to its stake with string it is likely that you will eventually sever the plant because its weight will continue to increase. We always tied any plant to its stake with wide (say one inch) bands of soft cloth ripped from old sheets, etc. Tie the bands with a bow so you can loosen and reposition as necessary as the plant grows.

As for your baby green tomato, surely your grandmother had a recipe for fried green tomatoes?

Bon appetit


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Pop the baby green tomato into the freezer. When you clear the plants at the end of the season, you'll have more unripened green tomatoes.

Then look up chutney recipes on the web and make some chutney out of them. You won't find this published, or at least I haven't but add in an appropriate amount of fresh chilli peppers and make it moderately - not loony, hot. Yum!

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My grandmother cut her old stockings into strips, which she saved for the purpose, to tie the tomato plants to the stake. (I'm not joking, the stretch of the stocking material meant it could expand as the plant grew, without damaging it.)

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Merkin, Nick, Des, Cole, thank you. I will try those.

Though the ladies might look at me a bit oddly, buying pantyhose. LOL. That, and I don't think I have the knees for 'em.

You know, good Southern boy that I am, I think I've only had fried green tomatoes once in my life. -- I would love to try 'em again.

I have never had chutney. Various other things, but not chutney. I'll add it to the grocery list. Better to have some idea how various kinds are supposed to taste, before fixing some myself. -- I am not a chili head, but being Texan, I have a little higher tolerance (maybe) than some. I would be happy to add a little chili or cayene or jalapeño peppers. That's definitely not a foreign idea.

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My uncle has a garden about the size of a small house. He uses ladies' hose strips, like Des mentioned, tied to a tall wooden stake, with no wire cage. The plants are all about six foot now, and around three feet wide. So, he must know what he is doing. We get plenty of fine ripe tomatoes to prepare meals with, but do not forget those fried green tomatoes!

Uncle has two green thumbs, so if you need any advice, he loves to give that out.

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The ladies in the pantyhose counter really only care about selling a pantyhose. Just make sure you buy a size that wouldn't fit you and they will think you are buying it for your daughter.

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OK, that last post just called for something else. And that turned into a poem, another really bad one. But I didn't think I should be the only one to suffer. So here goes.

Chasin’ the boys, yeah chasin’

Jeremy, Mike, ‘n Jason

Doin’ my best to catch ‘em

Catch ‘em, get ‘em, snatch ‘em

Jake ‘n Jim ‘n Marty

All of ‘em likin’ to party

Doin’ some mix ‘n matchin’

Playin’ around ‘n batchin’

‘fore getting’ old ‘n findin’

A partner n’ him mindin’

So no more chasin’, yeah chasin’

No more Mike or Jason

No more bein’ so bold

Ah, that’s so getting’ old.

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Hahahaha! I think I lost it at "military grade camo pantyhose".

I am very glad I have not run into any chiggers in a while. I haven't been out in the woods/fields to run into them. But I miss the country a lot.

Loved the photo. Loved the poem.

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Tomatoes once removed from the vine will continue to ripen for a while if it is mature enough.

Don't waste too much time trying to root a tomato shoot. You can make it happen with rooting hormone but it won't be a strong plant.

Tomato plants engine of growth comes from strong roots. If half a plant is cut down, if the roots are strong the plant will continue to grow.

I like cages. Tomato plants are naturally a vine and will climb the lattice work of a cage.

I'm just now beginning to get tomatoes. I was late planting because of rain. Looks like a good crop. The plants are a rich green-blue color and are growing rapidly with flowers all over them.

After three summers of drought in the early spring, this summer is much better.

My favorite varieties are Better Boy: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/54790/

Goliath: http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/54786/

Remember- these varieties do well in the hot, humid Mississippi climate. You'll want to look at other varieties for other parts of the country or the world.

Other things in my garden:

Okra (essential for gumbo http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gumbo ) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okra

Bell Peppers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_peppers

Jalapeno Peppers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jalepeno

Eggplant http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eggplant

Cayenne Pepper http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cayenne_pepper

Garlic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garlic

Shrimp Creole

  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 1 pound medium shrimp - peeled and deveined


  1. In a 2 quart saucepan, melt butter or margarine over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic; cook until tender.
  2. Mix in cornstarch. Stir in stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, and red pepper sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Stir in shrimp, and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Serve over rice


I suggest: less celery.

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Fried Okra

  • 10 pods okra, sliced in 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil


  1. In a small bowl, soak okra in egg for 5 to 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, salt, and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge okra in the cornmeal mixture, coating evenly. Carefully place okra in hot oil; stir continuously. Reduce heat to medium when okra first starts to brown, and cook until golden. Drain on paper towels.


Fried Green Tomatoes

  • 3 medium, firm green tomatoes
  • Salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp Cajun seasoning (optional)
  • 1/2 cup milk or buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup fine dry bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil or other vegetable oil


1 Cut unpeeled tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt. Let tomato slices stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place in separate shallow bowls: the flour and Cajun seasoning (if using), buttermilk and egg, and bread crumbs and cornmeal.

2 Heat the peanut oil in a skillet on medium heat. Beat the egg and the buttermilk together. Dip tomato slices in the flour-seasoning mix, then buttermilk-egg mixture, then the cornmeal-bread crumb mix. In the skillet, fry half of the coated tomato slices at a time, for 3-5 minutes on each side or until brown. Set the cooked tomatoes on paper towels to drain. These are fantastic with a little Tabasco sauce or remoulade.


In the South we are not buried. We are slowly lowered into a deep fat fryer.

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