Of plants, tomatoes seemed the most human… – John Updike
If what John Updike says of tomatoes is true, my neighbor is reminding me of an important lesson about working with people.
My neighbor’s tomato plants are growing like mad.
When we moved in a couple months ago, they were tiny, no taller than my coffee mug. They occupied a few square inches of his small deck. He grew them himself from seeds.
Now those plants are shoulder high, spreading, growing. Little yellow flowers are all over the plant, like sparkling yellow stars in the night sky.
Each flower is a future tomato. Dozens of small green ones are already visible.
He’ll have more good tomatoes in the coming weeks than he knows what to do with.
Our tomatoes aren’t doing so well.
We bought the plant at the store. It came in a pot. Some tomatoes were already forming. Two weeks later, one turned red and we ate it. It was OK.
But our plant hasn’t grown much. All it’s done is produce the eight tomatoes that were already started when we bought it.
Now the lower leaves are yellow and brown and there aren’t any little yellow flower-promises of future tomatoes.
Soon, if we want good tomatoes, we’ll have to go buy another plant. Or ask our neighbor.
The Secret to Growing Good Tomatoes
Our neighbor had never grown tomatoes before. He didn’t know what he was doing. He even put the cage upside down. What was his secret?
He said he did his best to follow the directions. Added fertilizer. Watered carefully.
I’ve grown tomatoes for years. I didn’t do any of those things. My wife had to throw out the plant yesterday.
What’s the secret? It’s the same as with people.
Whether you grow your “tomatoes” from the very beginning, or get them from some place else, you have to take care of them.
If your “tomatoes” know by your actions that you genuinely care, they will grow for you, produce more, and get better over time.
Even if you don’t get it exactly right, the point is that you are trying.
And as anyone who has “gardened” can tell you, the best “tomatoes” are the ones that you cared for yourself.