My Tomato Step Children

June 28th, 2009


I have two patches of tomatoes growing in my garden.  One of these patches I grew from seeds.  I nurtured them through their colicky baby-hoods.  I rocked them all night long when they had fevers.  I comforted them after they skinned their knees and taught them how to ride a bike.  They are my babies and I am very proud of their voracious growth.  






On the other hand…

I also have a patch of tomato plants that came into my life half grown.  I purchased them from the Garden Center where I work.   I bought several different varieties so that I could compare one variety to another.  I was calling this patch my ‘tomato test patch’, but I have come to realize that they are really my tomato step-children.  

And I am a lousy step-parent.





For instance, I was very concerned about mulching my own ‘natural born’ tomatoes with newspapers and cotton burr compost.  I did not want their tender baby leaves to come in contact with the cold hard earth and I wanted their roots to stay cool and moist.






As to my tomato step-children…

I just threw them in the lettuce patch and let them fend for themselves.






For my own baby tomato plants, I hand-crafted  some bamboo supports.  I lovingly tied each plant up so that it’s tender leaves would not dangle on the soil.   I check them every day to see if they need more support and if so, then I carefully tie up a few more branches.







As to my tomato step-children… a cheap wire cage was good enough.







For my ‘real’ tomato children, I surrounded their roots with specialized tomato spikes formulated especially for them.  

Sadly, my own baby tomato plants used up all the special fertilizer spikes before I could get over to my tomato step-children.






A few weeks later when my tomato step-children started to look especially anemic, I purchased some cheap generic fertilizer and haphazardly applied it to the plants.  







My ‘real’ tomato children are big, bushy and dark green.  They are full of blossoms and heavy with fruit.  I can’t stop looking at them!  I am so proud of them!








My tomato step- children are lime green, spindly, and weak.  






They are constantly trying to get my attention by producing big round fruit, but I hardly notice them.  


All I see are my own babies…


Growing so big and strong…

Look how gorgeous they are!






My beautiful babies!


Thank God they are only tomatoes!


  • Speaking as a step mum…you should hang your head in shame!!! Frightful behaviour…is there a department for Cruelty to Tomatoes?
    Just think..if you had treated them as your own (Iike I treat my boys) you would have beautiful varied amazing tomoatoes in addition to your bouncing natural babies…together they would have created the perfect salad…but you have forfeited the right to that joy now…too late…you loose.

  • Rechelle:

    But I can change! I can do better! I can! I will!

  • Tracy:

    Please change, before you have daughter-in-laws or I fear you’ll be in for some rough times ahead. (They might not be inclined to let you see the ‘fruit’ they produce if they are treated shabbily).

  • I absolutely loved this. You are in no need of criticism here, dear Rechelle. This was a terrific contrast in attitudes and approaches to different things in our life. Legitimacy isn’t the issue. What I enjoy and applaud is your ability to not only see the difference, but illustrate it so well. I remain inspired by you.



  • Erin:

    I read other blogs that cause me to smile at their life story’s. But only you Rechelle can make me literally chuckle out loud at the way you see and interpret your daily life. You are so damn funny.
    By the way, my husband and I are also proud tomato growers.

  • LOL! I love the contrast and it really shows how much attention you have to pay to your plants when you’re gardening!

  • Cal:

    This made me laugh out loud and what a poignant reminder of how set we can get in our attitudes.

    Cal :>

  • susan in FL:

    I think unconciously you want the store bought plants to wither and die. That way when asked which tomatoe tastes better you can say with utter confidence that the seeds are the best bet.

    So there!

  • Wow, this brought tears to my eyes. Your words really stirred something in me. Not since The Giving Tree have I felt so much raw emotion for a member of the plant kingdom.

  • You’re an evil step mother!!

  • Send me your step children. I promise to care for them as my own. Especially if they’ve already got fruit!

    I’m so jealous of your garden. Mine is sorely empty this year. It’s leaving me sick to the stomach over it. (The few plants in pots I’ve gone with are just not cutting it.)

  • Neena:

    Love the header at the top of this post. Also, the different approach you took with the different tomato plants is often how we approach many things in life. You have a lot of wisdom up in that Bohemian brain of yours. Keep sharing it with us. And bring back tons of pictures from the English countryside. I’m sure it will look quite like your own garden!

  • Love the way you think about things. I have a similar situation with my lettuce – just never thought about it quite like you did!
    P.S. I’m rooting for the tomato step-children – get it….rooting….HAHA…….

  • So funny! Thanks for sharing.

  • You crack me up – those poor red-headed step kids!

  • [...] are practically growing on top of each other. The cucumbers are growing on top of the tomatoes. My tomato step-children are in the middle of an overgrown lettuce patch. My eggplants are riddled by bug holes and my [...]