Sunday, July 06, 2008

Victory Garden bearing fruit

My Victory Garden is coming along nicely. Thanks for asking. Three tomato plants in clay pots lined up against my south fence. I documented the dicey early stages of their existence on June 16 and 24. Almost lost them to a late freeze. But now they’re thriving, gulping water in this semi-arid climate like there’s no tomorrow (can you hear the sprinkler in the background?).

I began with three six-inch plants and now the German Striped and Gold Currant plants are climbing out of their cages. The Zapotec plant was getting tall and stringy so I lopped off the top half in the hopes that it will fill out below and create some blossoms. None yet. No blossoms as of this morning on the German Striped, either. I’m beginning to worry. Lots of blossoms on the Gold Currant, with tiny cherry tomatoes busting out all over (see photo).

Several tomato-growing friends were over the Fourth of July and they told me not to worry about the plants, that the blossoms will be along by-and-by. One friend told the story of her uncle in Kearney, Nebraska, who keeps his tomato patch growing even though his kids have grown up and moved away. He has a caged enclosure "the size of a VW bus" that grows big juicy tomatoes that he gives away to neighbors and the doctors and nurses and staff at the local hospital, a place where he and his wife are spending more time lately. There’s something about the gift of a big red tomato that satisfies some ancient urge in us. A zucchini doesn’t mean as much, probably because they can grow themselves. Same with summer squash or green beans. Tomatoes are difficult, especially at this altitude and in this climate. Someone in Cheyenne gives you a ripe homegrown tomato, and you know that person is a friend. Or more. My wife likes flowers, but this former tomato-spurning person now swoons at the sight of a homegrown tomato.

Meanwhile, the morning paper carries news that salmonella-tainted tomatoes have sickened 943 people in the U.S. Not bad, really, when you think of the millions of Americans who eat tomatoes. Unless it happens to you, and then one case of salmonella is too many. This looks like a case for "CSI-Produce Posse" as authorities have begun to suspect other ingredients used in salsa, such as jalapeno and Serrano peppers and cilantro. It might have rushed to judgement on the tomatoes. "Tomatoes are the leading suspect," the story says, "although other produce is being investigated."

Isn’t that always the way it is. The authorities always pick on the big round shiny red fruit before they investigate their green accomplices from the veggie kingdom.

5 comments:

mpage225 said...

Mike, congratulations on your perseverance in the face of certain people making fun of your efforts...so here is something to help from a book my father in law let me borrow. This is a "Tomato Booster Tonic" and you use it as the plants are starting to flower. I just picked my first big tomato and already have several cherry tomatoes.

2 tbsp Epsom Salts
1 tsp Baby shampoo
1 Gallon of water

Mix together and liberally soak the soil of your plants as they flower. Good luck!

Bob

Michael Shay said...

This sounds a little odd, but I'll trust you on this one, Bob. Tomatoes in Cheyenne need all the help they can get.

mpage225 said...

You can trust me, it works. Now for the yard and other plants I have some other recipes involving beer, whiskey, ammonia, cola (not diet),and tobacco juice.

Bob

Michael Shay said...

What about K.C. barbecue sauce?

mpage225 said...

We save that for the burnt ends