I am aware that many of you here have been growing tomatoes since ages, but for me this was my first attempt, and the journey of these past six months – from seeds to fruit – has been a very valuable learning experience. Come to think of it, over the past year, my home garden in the limited box grilled apartment window space of 8 ft x 1 ft has taught me more than an open field would – because limited space meant small planters and more importantly less root space. But, as I soon learnt, this did not translate into reduced nutrition. That is when the literal application of the adage “… dust to dust” dawned upon me and which truly opened up the vistas for me!
Turning dead and decaying matter into organic fertiliser for plants through composting provides all the nutrition that plants could ever need since this now dead organic matter had once grown by absorbing all the essential macro and micro nutrients it needed to survive and thrive. Thus without the need for synthetic fertilisers I could, in the past year, experiment with growing chillies, tomatoes, fenugreek, Indian borage, coriander, mint, ginger, garlic, turmeric, butterfly blue pea, pumpkin (yes, the same one that I have been raving mad about!), fennel and basil.
So coming back to the tomatoes – yes, why do I come back to it? Because growing a plant for its fruit is a completely different ball game than one where the plant is grown merely for foliage; as soon as a plant starts flowering and fruiting the nutritional requirements go ballistic. From maintaining the right soil pH and precise watering schedule, to fulfilling the peak demand on nutrients once flowering begins, it is an exhilarating roller coaster; and as you set out on this journey you become an integral part of it –each day a dawn of wisdom and often at dusk a lesson learnt!
With the tomato season now in its finale, it is time to move to greener pastures – brinjal, probably? I seem to be enamoured with growing vegetables from the nightshade (Solanaceae) family! But before I stop yapping, of the hundreds of photographs taken by me (what else did you expect!?) from the seedlings to the harvested tomatoes (I keep coming back to them, don’t I?), I leave you with these four which, as a depiction of overlapping crops, are the capstone of the fruits (tomatoes, again!) of my labour.
And with a haiku to go alongside, until we ketchup again soon…
rich ripe deep red tangy sweet
salsa on a song!
– Narendra Nayak © 2021