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Homegrown Tomatoes

HOMEGROWN TOMATOES 1 Outside the wind howled and rain swept across the yard. The woman looked at her calendar and smiled, it was the third week in February. Today was her day to plant tomatoes. The seeds had come from Territorial the previous week. Two varieties this year, her usual, Siletz, and a new one that promised Beef Steak size tomatoes on a short season plant. Onto the kitchen table she piled her supplies: a windowsill greenhouse, a stack of peat pellets, and a watering can. Soon the tiny seeds were nestled under the clear plastic dome. Twelve plump peat pots. Eight Siletz and four of the experimental (in her mind) variety. The top of the refrigerator would be their home until the first signs of green appeared, then they would be moved to the south facing kitchen window. Three weeks passed. The weather grew warmer and the little plants spread their leaves and flourished. Roots appeared through the sides of the peat. The woman gently placed each seedling into a slightly larger, two inch pot which would later be replaced by a four inch pot. Her teenaged children teased her. Mom, is it really worth all this effort? You can tomatoes. She smiled, Not like these, you cant. They just shook their heads. Silly mom, they thought. The first weekend of May was The Day. The plants, now lush and nearly a foot tall would be moved to their final outdoor home. For the past week, she had been hardening them off, moving them outside during the day, back in at night. The last two days, they had stayed out overnight. Tenderly, she tucked each root ball into the garden bed, surrounding each with a wire cage for future support. She studied her work with satisfaction. Her hands held the faint fragrance of foliage and soil, and her back was a bit stiff. The first weekend in the garden was always hard and getting a little harder each year. HOMEGROWN TOMATOES 2 As spring turned to summer, the garden thrived. Peppers, cabbage, squash and beans all shared the sunlight with the tomato plants. Small green marbles turned into golf balls, then tennis balls. The woman watered, weeded, fertilized and mulched. Her sons could mow the lawn, but no one else could touch her garden. One morning she stepped through the gate to be met by twelve green sticks, plants eaten to nearly nothing. One had a single green globe dangling from the top branch. The beans were all but gone, each cabbage nibbled. Deer! Seeing tracks, she determined that the critter had invaded by going the deck. This was about two feet off the ground, with a narrow opening next to the steps. It had to wriggle along for ten feet to access the garden. She was near tears. All I ask for is this little patch of ground, she sighed. The deer can have the other two acres! Her husband hugged her sympathetically and patched the access point. Three of the plants still had some foliage. The rest she replaced from the nursery, supplementing with Early Girl when there were not enough of the Siletz variety. The beans were replanted and the cabbage trimmed. Days passed. The cabbage recovered. The old tomatoes grew new leaves and the new tomatoes bloomed. The beans sprouted. One night the gate was apparently left unlatched. The next morning the bell peppers were eaten and four tomato plants were gone. Four more were purchased and planted. By now the variety was no longer HOMEGROWN TOMATOES 3 important. She had at least four different kinds in the garden. Each morning she checked the perimeter of the fence. Each evening she made sure the gate was secure. Summer wore on and fruit was set. The original three plants bloomed. By August, there were about a dozen yellowish balls per plant. September came and the tomatoes ripened at last. Not nearly the bumper crop that she had envisioned when she started her seeds. There would be no homemade sauce this year. There would only be enough for some salads, and maybe a bowl or two of fresh, spicy salsa. Next year would be different. As the woman picked the last ripe, flavorful tomato in mid-October, she remembered her childrens teasing and wondered if it was indeed worth the effort. Yes, she thought later, admiring the ruby red slices on a blue china plate, it was worth it. You just cant beat a homegrown tomato. buyunder

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If you've ever tried to garden in "deer country", you'll appreciate this...


11/21/2009 1:21 PM
Good story Sounds like when the birds destroyed my watermelon patch.
I never realized you can just get net to stop this. There is a similar product called deer guard too



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Votes: 8
Views: 1,985
Date: 8/30/09
Other: Writing