I am, apparently, cruel and unusual

I will admit, there was a point this summer when it occurred to me I should actually get up on the step-ladder and figure out whether there was, you know, enough dirt in the hanging basket, or anything worth noting up there, or whatever.

It occurred to me, but I had zero follow-through. I just kept dumping water in, preferring to operate under the don’t ask-don’t tell policy of tomato growth.

As I said last week, I had noticed the little bumps coming out of the plant’s main stem, but chalked them up to something akin to disease. Then Maggie tipped me off to the fact that it was, in fact, root growth.

I’m still reeling a bit at how gross that is. Amazing, of course, because can you imagine if you were thirsty and you could just grow a straw out of Tomato rootsyour arm or your buttock or something and suck up some extra moisture? But still gross. Still a sign of plant abuse.

So yesterday, I went out and bought some plants to hang in the basket after I put the non-productive, overly-thirsty yellow pear plant to rest in the compost bin. When I took the hanging basket down, the picture you see here is what I saw. Tons of random root growth just above the dirt. Roots stretching, futilely, for any purchase in the impotent dirt.

It was an unpleasant business, unpotting that plant and potting the new ones. An unpleasant business because I knew I was the one who had made that particular tomato plant miserable all summer long.

I really can’t stomach being cruel and unusual—even inadvertently so.

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17 Responses to “I am, apparently, cruel and unusual”


  1. 1 Lydia August 27, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    Ah, but you have learned, and you will never torture another tomato plant. And you’ve taught the rest of us! And that’s what gardening is all about.

  2. 2 Stuart August 27, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    Hideous. This makes the 6pm news look like a sit-com – lol :-)

    I do that with container plants which is even worse because they’re not as out of sight as hanging baskets.

    Growing a straw out of your bum??? Mmmm… That would be tough to sit down.

  3. 3 inadvertentgardener August 27, 2007 at 7:39 pm

    Lydia, I hope the information is a little helpful. I was totally shocked!

    Stuart, it would be tough to sit down. But it would make things rather interesting, wouldn’t it?

  4. 4 steven August 27, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, tomatoes can root from anywhere on their stems, maybe it needed more dirt, maybe not. Those tips I pinch off my tomatoes? If I stuck them in dirt, half of them would survive to become plants.

  5. 5 Carol August 27, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Go easy on yourself. Actually, that tomato might take root in the compost bin, if you let it.

  6. 6 Katie August 27, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    Cracked me up with the grow a straw out of your….comment! Tomato plants are aliens. I’m convinced.

  7. 7 inadvertentgardener August 28, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Steven, really? I had no idea. That’s kind of bizarre. Propagation? It’s a weird thing.

    Carol, my compost bin is pretty closed in, so that might not work. But we’ll see.

    Katie, I think you’re right…

  8. 8 Chigiy August 29, 2007 at 1:48 am

    I was prepared to say that it’s really not that gross, but you lost me at staw out your buttock.

  9. 9 inadvertentgardener August 29, 2007 at 6:03 am

    Chigiy, see? It’s gross. :-)

  10. 10 jackiesgarden September 1, 2007 at 5:25 pm

    Tomatoes are one of the few plant starts you can buy, that you can bury deeper than their root line. In fact, if you want really thick, healthy vines, bury it deep enough to cover at least the first set of leaves.

    Tomatoes are hard to grow in hanging baskets, unless you are available to water three times daily, then they’d do fine. Hanging baskets just dry out too fast. Especially if you get any wind. Even in the shade.

    It’ll probably grow in the compost heap!

  11. 11 inadvertentgardener September 2, 2007 at 4:54 pm

    Jackie, I just learned about burying the tomatoes up to their first set of leaves this year, but after I’d already planted my tomatoes. I am going to keep that in mind for next year — it will be interesting to see what happens.

  12. 12 Natalia September 3, 2007 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve had great luck the past two years growing tomatoes in self-watering hanging baskets. The extra reservoirs make it so I only have to water once a day for most of the summer, twice a day, when the weather gets really stupid hot. I had the most success with “husky cherry red” and “roma” varieties.

  13. 13 inadvertentgardener September 3, 2007 at 8:38 pm

    Natalia, ooh…extra reservoirs would have been helpful, especially since I’m so poor at remembering. But I’m glad you had success with it!

  14. 14 TomatoGrowingSecrets April 15, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    Wow, you should be ashamed of yourself, poor tomato plant. Must admit though, I haven’t grown them like that. I will have to give it a go next season.

  15. 15 inadvertentgardener April 20, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    TomatoGrowingSecrets, if you try it, let me know how it goes!


  1. 1 A totally inappropriate choice « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on August 28, 2007 at 8:05 pm
  2. 2 Trailing into Spring « The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on April 16, 2008 at 6:02 am

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