It all stemmed (no pun intended) from a tip I received from an heirloom tomato grower back in the spring while I was browsing the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Festival. Here's what sparked my interest: You know those sucker shoots that grow out of the junction of the tomato stem and leaf branch? The ones that suck energy away from the main plant and reduce your tomato harvest? Well, this fella I ran into told me when I break those sneaky suckers off, I could--get this--plant them! In effect, I could clone my tomato plants!
Now I don't know why this hadn't ever occurred to me. I mean, I've been basically doing the same thing with my geraniums and lavender for years but just never thought to call it "cloning". And it makes sense that the process would work with tomato plants, since all those little hairs covering the stems are actually teensy tiny little roots that, if buried, will mature into a fantastic root system. But to make the connection that I could snip off a sucker, stick it in the soil, and in essence, save my heirloom tomato plants from season to season, I needed to run into this friendly fellow tomato lover. Glad we had that encounter.
So here's what I did...
A few weeks later, I wandered into the greenhouse in search of a shovel and suddenly remembered the tomato suckers. (This is how my life goes...absentmindedness is ever-present.)
I reached up and grabbed the tray of pots, lifted them down to eye level, and this is what I saw...
I quickly cut my losses and focused in on my survivors. A quick sprinkle of water later, and they were back up on their sunny shelf, left to do their business--whatever that is. I'm not exactly sure what my goal is in all this, except that I was curious about the tomato cloning process and had a lot of fun pretending I was a mad scientist, barricaded in a dark castle tower laboratory deep in the forests of Germany and surrounded by beakers full of bubbling brew, odd machines spewing steam and smoke, and my very own big green monster with bolts in his neck. Although I'm not sure "Frankenstein" had much to do with cloning tomato plants. None-the-less, it's where my mind went...and it was loads of fun.
So I'll let you know how this all turns out. I can't see why this process wouldn't work, unless I forget all about them again. Which is, in actuality, extremely likely. But as long as we know that ahead of time, we should be fine. And who knows, if this goes well I may end up cloning my tomato plants every year.
But if I start draping myself in an over-sized lab coat, leading around a giant green man in really big boots, and staring off into the distance with a half-crazed look in my eye, somebody call my husband. He'll know what to do.
I just hope he lets me keep my goggles.