Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Jack and the Tomato Plant

A little while ago I got a tiny tomato plant from a store.  I figured that it would be fun for Elli to watch it grow and maybe we would even get a tiny tomato or two.  I like very much having lots of green around the place regardless, so even if no tomatoes were forthcoming I wouldn't have been displeased.  What I got though was something else entirely.

Tomato plants, as far as I can recall from my parents' garden, that is, aren't all that big.  I remember putting out the round wire tomato plant thingies for them to grow up on but I certainly don't recall them ever becoming behemoths that would tower over me... but this one certainly did.  First I put a small metal post in the pot, about 2 feet high.  This was never going to be enough if the plant grew decently but I figured it would serve for awhile.  Trouble is the plant kept growing, so we moved the light near it and figured it could climb up that.

To keep it from just falling over I used masking tape.  Initially just a little masking tape on the metal pole, then a piece on the lamp, then more pieces on the lamp.  Eventually I had the very top of the tomato plant taped to the rim of the lamp in some desperate attempt to let it continue growing ever upward.  Finally the plant ripped the tape off of the light and the stalk fell over, snapping nearly in two.

I gave up on the ridiculous idea of the lamp and now the tomato plant is growing all over our clothes drying rack.  Stood up straight it is now over 7 feet tall, dwarfing me handily.  I sure didn't expect that when I planted a little tomato plant that I would end up with a gigantic tomato plant that fills the room and precisely zero tomatoes.  Aside from the obvious travesty of holding the bloody thing up in the air, what have I done wrong to create this monster?


  1. I'm thinking it's one of those Tiny Tim or Sweet One Hundred plants that have lonnnnggggg arms. Does it have any flowers? If so, you might need a bee or a Q-tip to pollinate them in order to get fruit.

  2. There are two sub-groups of tomatoes: Determinant and non-determinant.

    Determinant have more specific phases of growth: namely, they will develop foliage, produce flowers, pollinate and then fruit. Non-determinants are undertaking all four processes at any one time simulataneously - they will continue to grow while any established and mature portions of the plant flower, pollinate and fruit.

    Clearly, yours is of the latter non-determinant variety. Was it purchased from a store that might have more garden-ey type varieties? Determinants are the the more often hybridized type for commercial production, and non-determinants are popular with home gardeners and seed savers -- often heirloom varieties too.