Saturday, April 21, 2007

Waiting 'Til the Male is Out of Town

My garden spot. Isn't it lovely?I've been trying to grow tomatoes in my back yard for the past seven years with very little success.

Back when I lived in North Carolina, it was easy as proverbial pie. Go down to the feed 'n' seed, pick up a couple stocky German Johnson seedlings, maybe a Tigrella, a big, yellow heirloom and a Better Boy for insurance. Dig in some composted steer manure and pop them boys up to their top cluster of leaves into deep holes. Couple months later I'd have 'mater plants taller than I was setting on enough fruit to feed an army.

Not here.

First year was excusable, we moved into the house on the Fourth of July. The folks who sold us the house left a couple of straggly, deformed little tomato and pepper plants behind the house along with a dandy crop of weeds and a rat infestation. Handsome Bob StrayCat, Bon Vivant, Tommy About Town (his full name and titles) took care of the rodents. I mangled my spading fork trying to dig up the weeds. But I buy Craftsman, so I hauled it in to Sears and swapped it for one with uncontorted tines.

Sears has provided me with at least one new spading fork a summer since I've lived here. To say the ground here is hard is to invite incarceration for understatement.

The next three years the excuse was the poplars -- five sixty-foot Normandy poplars that ran across half of the back border of our yard. They were starting to drop branches, though, so we had them removed not quite three years ago. Sunshine! Strange concept.

That summer I started some lovely seedlings, grew them up big and strong. Couldn't manage to dig big enough holes to get them planted. The Engineer pulled out a pair of post hole diggers and spent three hours digging twelve holes. Oddly enough, the tomatoes did not do well.

The summer after that, I told him I wanted to build raised beds, but it was a long, cold spring, and every weekend that he was home it snowed or rained, so we couldn't do it. The first weekend that was decent, Mr. Morning Dove arose before I was awake, took his truck down to Home Depot and bought a little Honda rototiller. Told me I couldn't even consider raised beds because he'd just purchased this magnificent farming implement and he would make me the perfect seed bed. He spent all day tilling the twelve foot by twelve foot area to a depth of four inches. The next day, he dug the holes for the tomato plants with his post hole diggers again.

Last summer it was the house remodeling. We surely couldn't afford to both remodel the house and build raised beds in the garden. Plus, of course, they'd be in the way of the contractors and would cause the basement to flood. So I hacked out shallow little holes where the ground was just a wee bit less rocklike over the previous year's post hole digger holes. I'm sure you can guess what a magnificent crop of tomatoes I had last summer.

Well this year I waited until the male was out of town.

And here is my half way there fair accompli.
I'm planning two twelve foot by four foot by one foot deep boxes. I'll post more pictures when they're finished and report on any tomatoes I may harvest. And beans and cucumbers and lettuce and carrots and peas and maybe even a squash or two. Providing I survive the hoohah that's sure to errupt when the Engineer sees what I've done when he wasn't looking.

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