We used to try to grow tomatoes. The cherry tomato plants were bought as seedlings. A couple of years later I tried planting seeds for a slightly larger tomato variety (seeds from supermarket tomatoes). The plants grew, but then the insects would come to eat them, or there would be a heat wave and the plants would shrivel up too quickly. We were given a larger variety of lycopene-enriched tomato, which to me seemed a bit low on flavour, and surely the whole point of trying to grow food was to grow something at least as flavourful as that available at the market or my favourite greengrocer’s.
A few years ago I refused to allow any more tomato plants to enter the yard. I was tired of the fussing over them, tired of being accused of taking inadequate care of them (a small boy and a few birds were more than enough for me to care for – and if anyone is interested, I think finches like to be neglected, as ours seemed to live a very long time, and the remaining finch is now 7.5 years old), and I did not like the appearance of the plant when the tomatoes appear (the dying leaves).
Last spring I repotted a few plants, then planted a few seeds for carrots, beetroot, beans, basil and nasturtiums. At first the seeds were segregated, given their own pots, or sharing with just one other seed variety. But then they took too long to come up, so I scattered a few varieties of seed in each pot. I discovered preferred locations in my yard for some plants, and I had a tomato plant come up. The tomatoes are large, so I suspect they are that lycopene-enriched variety. I was surprised: the weather did not kill them and bugs did not eat them. The tomatoes grew larger, and the first began to ripen. I almost began to feel excited at the prospect of a home-grown tomato, even if it was likely to be lacking in flavour. It would have been an achievement. But then, of course something ate it. I suspect the something was a possum or a fruit bat – substantial portions of the tomato would disappear during the night. And now it is eating the green tomatoes. There are not many on the plant, and it is just the one plant, so they won’t last long and I don’t need to worry about whether tomatoes will ripen – they will be eaten before then.