Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tomatoes and Wrinkles and Beggars, Oh My!

Part I - Tomatoes

Having paid $2.99 per pound for reddish tasteless tomatoes, I decided that this year I would grow my own. Memories of walking to the garden on a hot July day to pick a bright red juicy tomato came to mind. I know I was seven or eight years old because that's when we had a big garden. I would choose the most perfect tomato I could find, rinse it off with the garden hose--not to be sure it was clean, but rather so the salt would stick to the first bite. Then I sprinkled a little salt on it (ok, a lot of salt) and took a bite. It was better than biting into an apple. I then added more salt, took another bite, add more salt, another bite. When the fruit (vegetable? I was never sure) was gone, I'd rinse off my face and hands with the garden hose and quickly move on to the day's next distraction.

In buying those two tiny plants a couple of months ago, I had that picture in mind. Living in the city with a beautiful backyard, I chose as my garden plot a large planter. I filled my garden with enriched potting soil, added water, carefully bedded my two tomato plants and waited. I watered daily and within a very few days, my plants needed support.

It was suggested to me that I go to Ace Hardware and purchase tomato stakes. Are you kidding me?? My mother never purchased tomato stakes. She used what she had at hand--broomsticks, mop handles, whatever. What I have, that she did not, is an abundant supply of bamboo growing in my beautiful backyard. So I harvested some green bamboo as supports for my hearty and growing tomato plants.

Within a few short weeks (much sooner than I anticipated) I began to enjoy the fruits (vegetables?) of my labor. The plants became heavy-laden with tomatoes...much smaller than at first, but plentiful. I walked out one morning to find my tall, beautiful plants had fallen over into the nearby boxwood shrubs. The bamboo supporting my bounty had dried up and broken under the heavy load.

Lesson learned: Your venture may exceed your expectations. Invest in a good support system.

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