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June 2011

Planting Tomatoes

June 8, 2011
I’m back in my garden again – thanks to hard work that’s making me strong, no matter how gruesome, and coffee.

The entrance to the dog pen is enclosed with another gate. I had to bushwhack my way in through weeds tall as me plus a six-foot Rose of Sharon entwined in chain link. Inside, the weeds were higher than my waist: burdock, grasses and dock – and the usual Gill-over-the-ground, plantains, a few nice violets… A grass with delicate, dangling, yellow flowers lined one side. I think it’s a pioneer species because I have only seen it in recently disturbed areas such my garage slope where it no longer lives.

But where are the veggie beds? I have a "no till" garden. now it’s a “no find” garden.

Burdock skyscrapers alternate with swaths of grass. I think burdock is in the beds and grass is in the paths, so I rip out the burdock and everything around it in a three-foot wide strip down the row. My goal is to resurrect just one bed. But I clear just enough to plant two heirloom tomatoes: Striped German and Pineapple.

I put cages made from rebar around them, cages my father made for his tomatoes that he grew every year no matter what. He grew them from seed in egg cartons and other house hold castaways on windowsills. And when they fruited he gave away tons and made sauce and pickled tomatoes. Somehow he always had a bumper crop even though his garden became partly shady under tall black cherry trees and he always planted in the same place.

I remember him in his last tomato/pepper/rose/gooseberry garden when he was 82, staking tomatoes with stakes he made that looked like old-fashioned telephone poles along railroad tracks. Nothing pleased him more. One of my regrets? Not taking that picture.

The Next Morning
They’re gone. Somebody ate my tomatoes. Only two yellow leaves remain on the ground, one from each plant.

My next step is to weed the perimeter to uncover and fix the hole(s) where the thief gets in.

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