first tomatoes and artichokes



It’s hardly May, and I have my first tomatoes of the season already, this gorgeous pair on a seedling of the heirloom Cherokee Purple.

Okay, I cheated a little. These are actually hothouse tomatoes. Some seed I planted in the greenhouse last spring didn’t germinate until last fall. Transplanting the plants outdoors in November would have meant certain death for the little tomatoes, but I didn’t have the heart to pull them out. One of them set down roots through the drainage holes of the pot and just kept growing. Although the greenhouse is too shady and unheated, the plant survived. And now I have these first two tomatoes, with more on the way.

I’ve never used the greenhouse for anything as practical as growing veggies, so this will be an interesting experiment.


The first artichokes of the season are also on some plants that were almost accidents. For years we had a clump of an especially good selection growing in the veggie garden. But a room addition on the house put the garden in shade, and the plants went into decline. I dug them out and was going to toss them, until I decided to try a couple stems in the back of a new raised bed. The combination of more light, more moisture, and fresh compost-rich soil worked their magic, and the plants are now looking as good as they ever have.

I like to think that I earned some bonus points for showing some mercy and not tossing the tomato and artichoke plants into the greens recycling. But in the case of the artichoke, at least, it’s another life lesson in trying to find the right location for an underperforming plant.

Are there any plants that you’ve had similar experiences with? Any “rescue plants” that ended up rewarding you as much as others you’d planned for?

2 thoughts on “first tomatoes and artichokes”

  1. I’m not much of a rescuer, but I am ruthless about moving things around. I have a phormium guardsman I’ve moved 3 times in 4 years and it is miraculously surviving and I’ve had good luck with coreopsis and artmesia. Not good luck with grasses, which is surprising as they are such spreaders. Of course, they get none of the love you described in your post – I just yank ’em out, shove ’em the ground and see what happens.

    Sink or swim. I told you. Ruthless.

  2. Susan, I’ve gotten more into moving plants around myself. Failure to thrive is only one of the reasons to try new spots. Afterwards, sometimes I ask myself why I suffered a decade with the wrong plant in the wrong spot when all it takes is 5 minutes and a shovel to make things all better…

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