Monday, August 3, 2009

There's Always Tomorrow

I wanted to grow tomatoes, Sweet 100's like Lela's and my mother's. Little round mouthfuls of succulent acidic heaven.

Denny thinks we should buy tomatoes. He thinks tomato plants tend toward unsightly, particularly if the plant has to be jailed from deer by a wire fence in the middle of the garden.

More so if that fence is in front of the waterfall he built by hand for my birthday two years ago. A physical embodiment of love, our backyard waterfall is the most wonderful gift I've ever received. Denny had to pickax bedrock to create the subterranean pond that stores the water. Then he hoisted and stacked a thousand pounds of rocks to make the water tumble. And he did it in the roast of summer. Now the falling water soothes and heals us, burbling morning welcome and singing us to sleep at night.

I have friends, even novice gardeners, who are growing the most unbelievable tomatoes, right here in my neighborhood. Last year I tried growing tomatoes in a half-barrel. There were only five or six smallish fruit, but over time they grew plump and happy. Then, the day before the color said perfect picking, a deer took a bite out of each one and left the remains on the ground.

This year, I wanted to plant in the ground, with a fence.

After much family discussion, I planted in the only site we thought had enough sun--the center of the back yard, between the porch and the waterfall. I put in a Sweet 100 seedling and Denny installed the wire fence. Every day on his way to add a gallon to the waterfall, he watered the tomato plant and wondered when he'd get to take the fence down.

The plant survived our daily 100+F temps but bore no luxuriant showers of Christmas-red morsels. Just three medium-sized orbs. It must have been mislabeled at the nursery... The tomatoes lingered modest yellow-orange on the vine until finally the bottom one began to pucker in precursor to bursting, and I had to pick. The fence came down one minute after the tomatoes did.

I made a simple and wonderful fresh-tomato pasta dressing...a single meal.

Am already thinking about where we should build next year's raised bed. Denny doesn't know yet...


  1. HI Kathleen,
    Just catching up on the good put aside reading,
    and loved this. I split our first tomato with my daughter this morning ( the bite sized ones don't count)
    It was more than enough, with basil and sea salt.
    The slugs and constant battering rain are enjoying the others drooped across the pathway to the pool pump.
    The only spot for veggie garden we managed this year, and with not too much success.

  2. Oh, Kathleen, I love your stories!
    How do you get all that wonderful drama from tomato plants?? :-) Can't wait for your book.....


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