Garden of Eatin' / Vegetables

Rogue Tomatoes Overtake the Farmlette

My rogue tomato plants

Last month, I wrote about the accidental tomatoes growing in the lower yard with wild abandon. No amount of pruning could tame those billowy beasts, so I pretty much gave up after the first hour. I also gave up on trying to fertilize them, as they had grown so massively, the Medusa-like tangle of branches and leaves had utterly engulfed the ground.

Mulching was unnecessary. Watering was a game of hide-and-seek. I even forgot to water one week… or maybe it was two. And were there really only three plants in there? I swear it looks like I’ve got triple that going on.

After continuing to semi-neglect my rogue tomatoes these last few weeks, this is what they look like now.

My little monsters are all grown up. Messy. Unkempt. And slinging armfuls of sweet, juicy tomato crack.

The tomato monsters all grown up

Sweet, juicy cherry tomatoes

Every time I go foraging for tomatoes, I feel like I’m entering the Amazon. I need to be armed with a machete and a GPS unit — especially when I’m crawling through the clingy, bushy mass to fetch those dangling-in-the-middle-of-nowhere tomatoes.

Foraging for tomatoes

The tomato monsters have completely overtaken the lower yard and are close to overrunning my young pineapple patch. We had to stake a few metal cages above the tomatoes for the branches to climb up and over.

Vigorous tomato vines

I measured one branch to be over 10 feet long, sprawling along the ground with a vengeance… no signs of stopping and we’re only in July. It’s almost like the movie The Ruins… the vines start to take on a life of their own, overtake the farmlette, and consume any helpless being that comes upon them.

At least we’ll be well-fed before any of that happens though. Clusters of large cherry tomatoes are growing everywhere, hanging on branches in all stages of ripeness. Every time I peel back what I think is just dead foliage, I hit a pay load of delicious red goodness wallowing in the dirt.

Unripe cherry tomatoes

Ripe cherry tomatoes wallowing in the dirt

And my favorite thing about them? After I’ve filled up basketfuls of fruit, I come out of the jungle — clothes, hair, hands — smelling like fresh summer tomatoes.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • CandieLou
    December 8, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I didn’t have a garden for the Summer of 2011 but for 2010 I tried for the first time heirloom varieties of tomatoes and a couple of other things. The tomatoes were the only things worth talking about. But it seems I had just the same problem if you want to call it that as you. My tomatoes took over my entire garden! I had several varieties but it seemed to be worse with the red varieties. I never in my life have seen a tomato climb but let me tell you they did that Summer! It was the craziest thing I have EVER seen! It got to where in the humid snake loving Louisiana garden I own that I was afraid to go deep into the overgrowth of tomatoes for fear of being bitten by something I never saw coming! So take heart friend you are not the only one that has had this same problem! 

    • Linda Ly
      December 8, 2011 at 7:07 pm

      LOL! Next time you harvest tomatoes, bring a machete!

  • Paige Puckett
    July 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    That is ridiculous! How’s about you save some seeds and send them to me?

    • Linda Ly
      July 27, 2011 at 6:28 am

      LOL… I’m tempted to save some seeds! But I’ll probably just let some tomatoes rot in the ground where they are, and hope for “wild” tomatoes every year!

  • Liz
    July 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Wow. I’ve never seen so many tomatoes!
    I’m slightly jealous of all the tomatoes you’ll have. Yum.

    • Linda Ly
      July 26, 2011 at 7:26 am

      I just need to figure out all the different ways I can preserve them now. Diced, crushed, sauce, paste, ketchup?! It’s gonna be a busy summer!

  • Anonymous
    July 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    holy shiii… that’s a LOT of tomato plant. WTF is in that soil?

    • Linda Ly
      July 26, 2011 at 7:27 am

      I’d like to know the same thing!

  • Anonymous
    July 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Wow! Those are some serious tomatoes! 

    • Linda Ly
      July 26, 2011 at 7:29 am

      Haha yea… I hope my other tomato plants (the ones I’m actually paying attention to) turn out just as big!


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