There are 16 tomatoes left on this bedraggled, lopsided plant purchased in early March at Lowe's, already potted and complete with a wire cage support. It was a bargain--only $11.99, and it already had a couple of tiny tomatoes and plenty of flowers. So far, I've harvested 33, so by the time these last ones ripen, my cost per tomato will have been about a quarter. I'm not much of a vegetable gardener, but I do like fresh tomatoes, so I buy one of these instant plants every year at the home improvement center and they have always done well. This one didn't have a label so I don't know what variety it is. The tomatoes are very sweet with low acidity. I prefer a little bit more tang, but they are certainly better than tasteless grocery store tomatoes. Now that we are having 100 degree-plus days, this plant is on its last legs. If I can keep it going just two more weeks, those last tomatoes will ripen on the vine and then I'll send it off into the sunset.
Here is my backup plan to continue having fresh tomatoes all summer. It is an AeroGarden, a Christmas gift from my son that has provided three different types of crops so far. The AeroGarden is a device that grows plants without soil, just water and nutrients that continually flow over the roots. No muss, no fuss, and perfect for someone like me who doesn't have much interest in maintaining a vegetable garden. I'm currently growing tomatoes, but I've had crops of salad greens and basil before starting the tomatoes. The salad greens mix included seven different varieties of lettuce, and there were plenty of greens for two small salads daily for over six weeks. The international basil crop produced seven different types of basil, more basil than we were able to use. The cherry tomato crop pictured here is now six weeks old. It will be awhile before I have any tomatoes from these plants as the tomato crop takes about 14 weeks from start to harvest. (The tomatoes in the photo are from my potted tomato plant.)
I love to watch the daily progress of the plants, and the AeroGarden doesn't look bad on the kitchen counter. It is a gift that just keeps on giving.