When I last spoke of the Office Tomato, I described a plant that was quickly headed towards its final days. It had three ripe fruit and I was hoping to keep the plant going long enough to turn out a forth.
Amazingly, I managed to keep it alive to get not only a forth, but a fifth. There was even a sixth that made it to full size, but it stayed green.
The plant did die back. I have cut the stem down to a six-inch stub and am planning to put it outside to see if I can coax a second life out of this thing. Office Tomato 2: The Resurrection! And why not? I’ve got nothing to lose but a bit of time spent caring for it. My main concern is that the plant was not at its best, and that should a resurrection occur, I could find myself with a new, albeit sickly or disease-riddled plant. As I type these words, I can’t help but think of bad Zombie films, Reanimator, and Frankenstein. As if my resurrected plant is going to take on a life of its own, turn bad,and go on a rampage.
I need BRAINS! BRAINS!
The Taste Test
My second reason for bothering to keep this particular plant alive is the fruit. When I decided to nurture this particular volunteer plant, I predicted that this would all just be a bit of fun, but that the tomatoes themselves would be mealy and unpleasant. NOT SO! They were delicious. Very delicious. We ate the first and the last few straight up with a pinch of salt. The skin was a bit thick, but the insides were juicy with a nice tang. They were not mealy in the least. I made the mistake of leaving the last few on the plant longer than I should have as I did not have time to take pictures. You can see a bit of splitting in the full tomato depicted above. Tomatoes that split tend to turn mealy very quickly. These didn’t! They were just as juicy and delicious as the first.
Unfortunately, I’m still not sure exactly which variety this is. I grew a limited number of varieties on the roof last year (the volunteer came up in a houseplant that had summered on the roof), but I still can’t pin-point which one it was. I’ve narrowed it down to ‘Czech’s Bush’ or ‘Sophie’s Choice.’ I’ve been growing both varieties in pots for years. They are excellent, early producing varieties that do well in mid- to large-sized pots. Both produce similarly sized, red fruit. The leaves looked right. The only difference is that ‘Czech’s Bush’ is a very stocky, hardy plant. It’s short, thick, and rugged. This plants wasn’t any of those things particularly, but I wonder if that could be the result of a lack of light. It was grown in a window through the dim days of winter after-all. And it was never as leggy as other windowsill-grown plants have been. Either way, I’ve also saved some seeds from one of the fruits and might try growing those out this year to see if the plant shape changes at all in outdoor light.
The experiment continues. I hope my experience has inspired you to try your hand at an office (or bedroom, or living room) tomato this year. For the best chance of success, I’d go with dwarf varieties as they tend to be a bit more forgiving about a lack of light and can tolerate a very small space. But then again, I had luck with a larger determinate, so you never know. Gardening is an evolving never-ending experiment. Have fun with it!