Sunday, May 3, 2009

Birthing Tomatoes

When we lived in ND, the girls were small, our farmstead a whopping 80 acres with plenty of room for the garden of my dreams.  I thought.   Craig dutifully tilled up a huge plot with the big daddy tractor as if it was a small field being carved out of the prairie for a crop of wheat or sunflowers.   Virgin soil.   

Prairie shopping is mostly done from catalogues/mail order.   All winter I perused every seed catalogue for the wonderful pristine garden that was going to look just like the pictures. Idealistically, I passionately believed in organic sustainable gardening, without knowing the word 'greener'.    I had read that soaking broccoli in salt water would raise the little green inch worms and float them, that vinegar and boiling water could/would kill weeds and many more hints on how NOT to ruin the land and contaminate the water and save the bees. 

Winters are long, so by spring, every sunny window in the house had boards and tables with hundreds of little paper cups filled with dirt and seeds.  The tomato section  was at least 70 cups worth.   I sure didn't want to waste any.   The peppers and peas and green beans were the same.   My still new father in law's eyes about popped out of his head when he realized I was going to plant all those baby plants!   He had the good grace not to say anything negative and waited patiently for fall.  He did tell me to cover the carrots with a board, after scattering the seeds in a row about a hands width wide.  He also said to plant 3 corn kernels in each hole-one for the crows, one might rot and one might germinate.  

I planted sand cherries, egyptian walking onions, asparagus, strawberries and filled that 'field' with every seed that came in exquisite packages.  I think seed packets are 'art'.   Because we put uncomposted steer manure over the fresh dug dirt, every weed was ready to go as soon as it rained.  I NEVER did get control of those weeds, it would have been a 12 hour a day job.   Couldn't ever find those strawberries and the night before the corn would be ripe enough to eat those dang raccoons would have a feast with every relative in the county.  We tried Tabasco on the tassles and tried putting paper bags around the ears, nothing worked....... and the tomatoes!  Everyone I knew got homemade canned salsa for Christmas that year made completely from the onions, peppers and tomatoes and tomatillos from my weed/garden patch.  They kept producing  and producing prolifically like monsters.  Gordon just smiled and still didn't say anything as he would pick one and eat it like a juicy apple.  And who wanted to eat broccoli that maybe still had a stuck worm that didn't mind the salt?   After seeing the sink floating with  green worms I didn't eat the stuff for years and years!   :)    Give me the poisoned kind.

16 years later, I'm really taking a risk doing a vegetable garden.  Trying to grow tomatoes in Washington takes a college degree, faith and a brave heart that won't get broken when the blight hits, as I'm told it ALWAYS does.  Everyone has a 'secret' weapon for getting a few healthy tomatoes.  Kind of like childbirth hints and advice........(Buy a tomato plant and you have instant comraderie with everyone, sort of like when you walk the dog or have a baby.) 

Tessa and I  will birth a juicy sun ripened tomato, we will, we will.   Are you wondering how many plants we planted?  

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