I finally planted my tomato seedlings last week. After weeks and weeks of putting it off, waiting for the heavy rains to stop and waiting for the weather to warm up, I finally got around to it.
First I had to tear out the dead vines, weeds, and God knows what else that had taken over the corner garden in the backyard. You see, this is what my little garden looked like for a rather (cough) long time:
As you might recall, we had rather an epic flood here in Nashville last spring. Then I broke my ankle. So I didn’t get around to planting much of anything last year. Unfortunately, I didn’t get around to cleaning up the mess left from the previous year’s garden either.
So last Thursday, I got out in the backyard with my tools and filled a huge garbage bag with dead vines and weeds. I excavated rocks and other debris that had landed in the garden, too. And finally, finally, I nestled five little tomato plants into their freshly dug holes and surrounded them with potting soil. I planted two heirloom varieties: Mr. Stripey and Cherokee Purple. And I planted a couple of other regular varieties.
For good measure, I added some organic tomato food that the lady at the garden center convinced me to buy. (It looked and smelled suspiciously like kitty litter. I guess we’ll see.)
Now comes the waiting. I’m not very good at waiting. But I’m much better at it now than I used to be. Parenting will do that to you. I’m watering and monitoring and watering some more. And I’m doing a little fretting. (Are the plants growing? Are they healthy? Am I feeding them too much? Not enough?) Parenting will also do that to you. In a couple of months, I hope to stand in my backyard and bite into a tomato right off the vine, with the juice running down my arm.
That is, if I can figure out a way to keep the neighborhood bunnies away. I developed all new sympathy for Mr. McGregor (from “Peter Rabbit”) when I first started gardening a few years ago. It always boils down to a battle against the bunnies. They want my tomatoes. I want my tomatoes. I do not want the bunnies to have my tomatoes, and I get a little irrationally angry when I see a bunny hopping away from my garden, leaving big gnashes in my ripening tomatoes. The bunnies do not care. They don’t have the intellectual capacity to know or care, anyway.
And so it begins. The tomato plants are in the ground, and it’s only a matter of time before the bunnies come calling.
This year, I want to win. I didn’t get to eat homegrown tomatoes last year, and the year before that, I was pregnant and couldn’t even look at a tomato without feeling the acid rising into my throat. I really really really want to savor these tomatoes (assuming that I can keep the plants alive long enough to produce fruit). I really really really don’t want those mindless bunnies to reap the rewards of my hard labor.
Ideas? Suggestions? Commiserations?