This summer, I planted my very own tomatoes. In June, they were doing great. The watering, sun and my incessant singing of “Walking on Sunshine” was working!

Were my genteel neighbors tiring of hearing music blast from our back deck twice daily while I watered? Did my family glance outside more than once with worried looks as I danced around my container tomatoes wearing a bedraggled, tomato themed-swimsuit? They sure did.

Did my family consider a tomato plant intervention when I announced the names of each of my tomato plants and asked that they greet them with their respective monikers – Ellen, Emily, Ethan and Eddie – that I etched on their hand-painted clay pots? Absolutely!

Did my husband follow a mesmerizing electric toothbrush vibrato sound to the back deck one morning to find me brushing tomato flowers? Yes, he did!  (Brushing the flowers helps get pollination going.)

I dreamed of homemade caprese salad and a nice, chilled glass of sauvignon Blanc. Yet, to my horror, these dreams began to wilt as I watched leaves shrivel and drop.

Salvaging hope, I placed mini plastic lucky Buddha statues in each pot. I tried to keep what was left of my tomato plants well-fed, vibrationally inspired and musically happy.

But, by the end of July, my plants had officially bought the farm. Okay, if truth be told, there was one tiny baby fruit, but it was nowhere big enough to fit on even the smallest Cheese Nip, let alone on top of a caprese salad.

Desperate for what I could have done wrong, I consulted my dog-eared “Southern Living Garden Book” and found the answer to my tomato failure. It turns out, if you have trouble with tomato plants setting fruit, the heat is to blame.

Next year I’m investing in a hot house, a brand-new electric toothbrush and a snazzy bell pepper-themed swimsuit. Hashtag #bellpeppersummer2023


Nettie Reynolds is a writer, published playwright and proud mom of two. Her writing has been featured in national magazines including PerContra, Forbes for Women, Entrepreneur and Yes! magazine. Find her on Twitter or Instagram @netreynolds.

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