Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Do you think I'm abusing my tomatoes? I don't mean to, I'm a nice guy most of the time, pretty much of the alternative school when it comes to plant discipline; there's just something in the way they seem to look at you with those flowery eyes, but sometimes you have to put your green thumb down...
A couple of evenings ago I put my tomato seedlings outside on the deck to acclimate them to the kind of weather they’re going to grow up in, and its been so cold these evenings - even in late April - that before going off to the big city, when I went outside into a morning just short of frost to water them they were hunched over like skinny green orphans, clutching a few raggedy leaves about their stemmy frames, straight out of Dickens, Olivers hoping for another portion, a brighter sun, a warmer day, a nicer venue... Is this plant abuse? If I don't bring them in tonight... but once they begin living with me, where will it all end? Can you evict succulents? Orphan tomatoes? Are there homeless vegetables?
And my goya plants too, which are most at home in sunny and toasty Okinawa and have only recently become available here in seedling form-- I got two of those in pots the other day and perhaps there's nothing more pathetic in the plant world than a couple of goya seedlings huddling together and shivering in the cold of a northerly mountain spring morning; even the tomatoes aren't as bad, hunched out there now out on the deck as they are, together with the quivering cukes, all hunkered together in the merciless chill wind; will it make them stronger or will it make them compost?
I believe that plants should be allowed to live their own lives as they see fit, within the gardening parameters. We get along; some of my best friends are spinach. But at some point, unless you want wimpy cucumbers you have to assert yourself, no more mister nice guy, say Stop your whining and buck up, stand tall, stick those stems out, spread those leaves, let's see some green pride! But then you can get too militaristic about it, that old drill regimen clicks its heels once more in a new guise, like it has so often in history, catching whole generations of humans by surprise and it can do so again, starting right here with tomatoes and who knows where it will end.
So I finally gave in and brought the tomatoes and their fellow malcontents inside, where I can’t help but feel they're smirking over there in that warm corner. I just hope I'll be running things this year, gardenwise. Today the garden, tomorrow you just never know.