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Father John's Jottings

For Great Fall Tomatoes, Begin with Deep Roots

September 3, 2015



My Dad was a grower – a tomato grower.  If you want a fall vegetable garden, it’s time to get to work.  And if you want that magnet of pride and frustration – the homegrown tomato – you have to plant thosenow. Otherwise, when there’s large fruit on the vine in two months, they may not get enough sunshine to ripen.


The problem with planting now is that it’s so hot in Texas. Tomatoes require full sun. But you have to be smart so they won’t wither. Here’s the trick. Buy an indeterminate plant (vine) that is already around two feet tall. Choose the thickest stalk you can, with the densest leaves.


After you loosen and mix compost into your soil, remove your tomato plant from its pot, and bury it 6 to 8 inches under the surface. Remove the lower branches so you don’t have any leaves in the dirt, on the dirt, or touching the dirt.  Keep the soil moist. Pretty soon, roots will begin to form from the stalk in the wet dirt. The rest of the roots will draw water and nutrients deep in the cool soil beneath the hot, sun-baked surface. Now you’re on your way to a fruitful crop!


Deep roots make all the difference for us as well.


Jeremiah 17:7-8 says,

“Blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green,  and they never stop producing fruit.”


Deep roots never grow when plants are moved time and time again.  The deep-rooted Christian isn’t constantly in motion, but gives the word of God time to penetrate the surface of his life. He meditates on God’s word, revisiting it over and over (watering the soil). He improves the soil around his roots by working into his life the guidance of other Christians.


It’s best to water plants in the early morning, or possibly in the early evening. Don’t water droopy tomatoes in the heat of the day! They don’t have the stalk strength to absorb water then.  Similarly, when you go to the Word of God, consider your heaviest watering in the morning, with just a bit in the evening.  You, too, will survive the heat of life’s trials, and “never stop producing fruit.”

Have fun, growing with God,


Fr. John Hardie
St. Mark’s Church, Corpus Christi