Monday, August 15, 2011

Tomato Testimony

Growing tomatoes has been a lesson in character building for me through the years. Some years everything goes right and the most beautiful, plump and luscious fruit seem to spring forth out of nowhere ripe for the picking in vivid shades of red. Other years, and, I'll admit for me, mainly most other years, the tomatoes turn into finicky, spoiled little princesses that seem to fret and almost cringe in their very roots over everything from insects, moisture, soil and even sunshine...go figure!

Beyond that, if it's not all of the aforementioned conditions, those darn devil deer eat the plants before the blossoms get a chance to even bloom. Aaarghhhh! Did you know that deer will go to any lengths, even facing a big fearsome guard dog lurking in their path, just to nip off a few tomato leaves, blossoms and stems during the summer even when food is plentiful?!  Okay, it is, after all, Tucker I am talking about here but every deer in the neighborhood simply can't know that Tucker is a big wuss...can they?!

So, you guessed it.  This year, again, seems to be for me, another year of disappointment when it comes to tomato production although I did try to prepared myself this past spring and only planted four tomato plants in anticipation of another season of slim tomato pickings. While two plants, Mr. Stripey and Lemon Boy, went directly into the ground, two plants, Green Zebra (which seems to be a devil deer favorite around here) and Celebrity, went into big pots, cleaned thoroughly and placed at corners of the greenhouse where water, sunshine and even a little shade in the late afternoon to help cool their roots during the hottest of high summer days didn't do much to encourage them to produce healthy, lovely, colorful fruit beyond the stage of pale green.

Yes.  It it's true that I don't go for the tried and true tomato plants like Beefsteak or Big Boy.  I pick out tomato plants like I pick out lavender plants--by their pretty or unusual names--very scientific, I know.  But, it does seem to work where growing lavender is concerned.  Besides, I think Green Zebra and Celebrity sound way better as far as tomato names go than your typical Early Girl or Better Boy.  Apparently, those devil deer think so, too.

At least the Lemon Boy tomato, planted in the ground, has produced a moderate amount of small fruit which has provided a couple of delicious meals of BLT's but I have had to resort to the supermarket for my fair share of tomatoes this summer...sigh. How is it that a tomato plant, one of the easiest and most popular of summer vegetables to grow, has decided to forsake me, once again this year,  I do not know!  But, my hat goes off to you tomato growing wizards out there who somehow have managed to stave off deer and other pestilence. Whether you have just a few plants or an entire farm full of tomatoes, for those like me, who are completely discombobulated when growing these, you are successful and we appreciate you all the more for you tomato growing prowess.

So, I have come to this, making tomatoes to display and enjoy.   My new motto is, "If you can't grow 'em, sew 'em!"  Not bad...not bad indeed! I think they look pretty good, mixed and matched.  Thank goodness lavender is not this hard to grow or I'd be up a creek without a paddle as I wouldn't have a clue as to how to fashion a lavender stem out of fabric!

I keep assuring myself that I am not the only one who has problems with tomatoes, embarrassing as it is. I just seem to have this contentious relationship with one of the great American summer garden icons. But, it won't stop me from trying again next year. Until then, velveteen tomatoes, for me, is the way to go. Do you hear me, devil deer and unpredictable weather conditions?  I will keep on trying and Tucker will be there at my side, doing his part to ward off at least the deer, all of the way.  Heaven help me!

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