A Jumbled Jungle Again

It was going to be different this year. More supportive. Less messy. I brought my best intentions. I had a plan. I had time (pandemic). And yet…

…the tomatoes have still grown into a tangled, gorgeous, hot mess of vines and fruits. See that yellow line across center? Or the one that’s above the large cherry toms performing half a color wheel? Those hint at my intentions this year. And as we all know, the Road to Too Many Tomatoes is paved with good intentions.

I was going to trellis as they grew. I was going to keep up with pinching the indeterminate shoots. I was going to prune them to a modest height above the bed. Instead, I’ve been pleading with them to call it quits now that they’ve gone-chaos well beyond my ability to maintain order.

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you might be saying, “Wait a minute. It sounds like you’re problematizing something that is not a problem. And you hate that, Amy. So what gives?”

Well, to answer in long-form…

I’ve been thinking about Amazon lately

The *real* one. The rainforest in South America. The one we rarely hear about anymore, and when we do, it’s about clear-cutting, soybean fields, hog feed, devastation. When I was in college, “the Amazon” was a place of mystery, curiosity, and hope. No one knew what potential plants might be found deep in the forest interior and what chemical properties those plants might harbor. Cures for cancer? Psychotropic drugs? Delicious fruits? There was much to learn, much to protect.

About a week ago, I was harvesting tomatoes. That large cherry variety with the tops that shade purple is a favorite heirloom I grow each year. It had been a while since I had done a thorough picking, so I was moving leaves aside and finding ripe berries hiding behind. (The cache is pictured in the green bowl below, along with the pole beans, cucumbers, and mini watermelon that rounded out the day’s harvest.)

I typically stand as I pick. That day, I did a squat to look for any fallen fruits decomposing in the bed – not because I care if they are there (go, composters!), but because it tells me if 1) my watering is just-right and 2) how many tomatoes the garden thugs* have pulled off, bit into, and ditched. And guess what. I made a discovery in the jungle…

Beautiful, ripe red cherry tomatoes.

It might be a sign you are growing your tomatoes too densely if: You have a variety in your bed that you didn’t even know was there.

Happy surprise! It must be a plant without a label I got from friends. One I just threw in the bed’s middle later in the season with a bid to “grow if you want to.”

I’m proud of this little tomato vine, pushing its way from the understory, proving that yes, good things are hidden deep in forests. So, to finally answer the question, no, this is not a problem. It’s amazing! It’s amazonian! And I have a LOT of tomatoes. Enough that I don’t have to be too upset with the *chipmunks this year for wasting them.

All the vines are still going strong, despite our (finally) cooler (September!!) nights and despite my telling them, “Ok, you can stop now.” They’re still influorescing, which I leave for the bees, but will pinch off before fruit. You just gotta love ecology. And forests. And jungles…

…and homegrown tomato sauce… bruschetta… Caprese salads… sun-dried tomato spread…

Keep growing eating!


  1. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one with grand intentions! I have a surprise squash that is growing. Love it when that happens!

  2. I love this! It sounds so much like me.
    I warn people to be careful and not accidentally step on a tomato because next year you will have that variety again. O and I have tons of volunteers. I like the part about the Amazon rainforest.
    Thank you!

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