Sunday, October 18, 2009

I say tomato, you say ha ha ha

posted Thu, 14 Oct 2004

I have been tortured in the most cruel way this summer and most of it is my own stupid fault.

A few years ago, I planted some crape myrtle trees on the east side of my yard. They were nothing more than branches at the time. But little by little, they grew. I wasn’t paying attention.

I didn’t notice anything was wrong until this July, when I realized that my tomato plants were not yielding any tomatoes. I finally figured out that it was because they were not getting enough sun. Sun is an essential requirement in the process of photosynthesis, or so I have been told.

So I whacked off a bunch of the branches (the polite word is “pruned,” but really, people “prune” their trees and shrubs just for the sheer pleasure of being destructive – a sad but true part of human nature – the urge to destroy – there is probably a German word for this trait) so the morning sun could hit the tomatoes.

Little green tomatoes began to emerge. A few even ripened. They were delicious – sweet and juicy as no grocery store tomato could ever hope to be. Anyone who has ever had a homegrown tomato buys grocery tomatoes only under the most dire of circumstances. Why would you eat wet cardboard after you have tasted heaven?

Anyhow. The philosophical questions of store-bought tomatoes can wait. I waited for more tomatoes to ripen, but they stayed green. Why, you ask? I had given them sun – I had sacrificed tree limbs, for pete’s sake!

Because we had an unseasonably cool August. We even had a day in late July where people here wore JACKETS. Usually, jackets don’t come out until NOVEMBER.

In September, a few tiny tomatoes ripened, but not more than ten percent of the total. When I returned from vacation, expecting to have missed all of them, I found about three dozen green tomatoes on the vines, which had extended about three feet and taken over the peonies and the cosmos. (Yes, I mix my tomatoes in with the flowers in the front garden. I can’t put the tomatoes in the back yard because there is really not enough sun back there.)

I have since gotten maybe seven little tomatoes – seven – off those vines. And half of them have been waterlogged because it has done nothing but rain for the past three days.

Is this fair? I don’t think so. I tilled that dirt myself. I dug up that yard, tilled the dirt, pulled the grass roots out of the tiller many times (and have the scars on my wrist to prove that the engine block of a tiller remains hot even after it has been turned off for eleven seconds), hauled the sand, peat, manure and mulch from Home Depot to my house and mixed it with the dirt and then planted the tomatoes in the ensuing mixture.

Do I not deserve abundant tomatoes?

Do I not deserve produce of the type that inspires the statement like, “No one ever locks their car around here, except in the summer time. If you don't, all of your friends and neighbors will fill your car full of fruits and zucchini. How much zucchini can you eat?” (from Grandma’s Country Thangs).

I think I have earned those tomatoes! But I am not going to get them. It is getting cold. It is supposed to get into the 40s this weekend. My remaining green tomatoes are probably going to turn into mush and die. I do not deserve this.

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