Organic Gardening magazine is one of the subscriptions I look forward to getting in my mailbox. The latest issue has a whole article on tomatoes with a few different contributors. I like growing tomatoes as much as the next person, and I’ve had my share of successes and failures. But I still keep at it hoping for the best. With the current trend of gardening and local food is still on an upswing, I feel as though encouraging everyone that has even the littlest of space to try to garden is called for (even if all you have is a sunny balcony, you can plant tomatoes in a container and grow a variety of herbs). My biggest beef came with this quote from chef Alex Lee. It was even highlighted on the page:
“Successfully growing tomatoes begins with a ‘classic compost pile’ made with the right mix…”
Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but it sounds awfully like “this is the RIGHT way to do it”, which can be a discouraging sentiment to hear. Not everybody has room or access or materials for a compost pile. In reading Gayla Trail’s book Grow Great Grub, she has a fantastic photo of somebody growing tomatoes in an alley. That is the way to do it! Work with what you have. If you haven’t grown tomatoes before, buy a plant or two, find a sunny spot and plunk them in the ground. Or if you don’t have access to actual earth, get a container, fill it with dirt, and plant it there. Water regularly and check for predators (bunnies, bugs or neighbors) and usually by mid to late summer, you will have tomatoes.
Gardening doesn’t have to be complicated or scientific. There are people that like to make it that way, but it isn’t necessary. There also isn’t a wrong way to garden. There is your way.
So buy a plant (or two or three), find a patch of earth and put it in. Tend to it and it will be sure to reward you.