Oh, beloved tomato plant, what hast happened to thee?

I’m rather ashamed to admit that this is the first year I’ve even attempted to grow any sort of garden, and one plant at that. Still, realizing my limitations in follow-through ability, and not wanting to start something and invest many upfront hours only to lose heart halfway through, I’ve been hesitant to even try. This year was different, though. We snagged a Topsy Turvy planter at a sale and I reasoned that certainly one plant’s care and feeding could not be out of my reach. Right?

Next, I bought a tomato plant from the local grocery store, and even though I got a late start at the end of June, my dad and I planted it in the Topsy Turvy and hung it in a sunny spot on the corner of the garage, and waited, expecting great things from a tiny plant.

It didn’t take long for my small experiment to blossom into a larger one. I watered it daily, watched over it, even said nice things to it whenever I went outside to feed it. Verily, I may have even grown overly attached to and protective of my tomato plant. At first, it seemed to respond and even thrive under my watchful eye. After two weeks, it looked like this:

I was delighted and kept up the same royal treatment. My plant responded with increased growth and the addition of about ten yellow flowers scattered throughout its branches. Flowers meant fruit and I began planning all the delicious dishes we would be able to enjoy with my bountiful harvest.

It didn’t take long for the flowers to yield tiny tomatoes…

Slowly but surely, the tiny tomatoes continued to grow–about ten of them at first. As they grew, new flowers bloomed and I started thinking of the people I could share my overflow with. Who doesn’t love a garden fresh tomato? More loving care of my plant followed, especially as the summer heated up and the rainfall decreased. Pleased as punch, I made sure my tomatoes were taken care of every day.

But then inexplicably, something changed. My beautiful plant, once full of life and flowers, seemed to stop growing. No new leaves or expansion of size. The green tomatoes appeared to be doing well, but almost all of the next batch of flowers dried up without producing any new fruit. At first I was in denial and assured myself that I was just expecting too much too fast. But soon, however, it was undeniable: something was wrong.

The next three pictures show what my plant looks like today. The leaves are yellowing and have spots and there are no new flowers at all. The original ten or so tomatoes continue to ripen, which is good news, but it appears that those are the only ten we’ll get. So far I’ve picked three and they’ve been delicious, and for that, I’m thankful. Looking on the bright side, with the price of produce this summer compared to the cost of getting my plant started, I still come out ahead if I only harvest ten tomatoes. And yet, after having tasted the first few tomatoes, I’m left craving more and more. What could have gone wrong with my plant?

Because after all, really, this is why I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing.

What have I been doing wrong?!?!

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