Monday, May 4, 2009

Growing Tomatoes From Seed

I badly needed a diversion. So I ordered 2 packets from Burpee's: Belgian Giant Pink, or some such. An heirloom plant, allegedly. Each packet, as advertised, was to contain roughly 30 seeds. I ordered 2 packets because I thought, surely, not all the seeds would germinate. Well, each packet didn't contain 30 seeds. More like 45. So as I placed the individual seeds in the soilless germinating mixture on an early April Saturday morning, said mixture ebbed while the seeds seemed to impersonate the baskets of fish and bread loaves. So I decided to plant multiple seeds in the small germinating cups. Surely, I thought again, attrition would rule the day and I'd have at least 2 dozen or so viable seedlings.

Nope. 1 week later, every last one of the seeds had germinated. So there I was with 55 small paper cups of tomato seedlings. Some with 1 seedling, some with 2, many with 3. Even some with 4.

I'm overwhelmed.

I've been making tomato cages out of the lumber I salvaged from "40th Birthday Deck Fire 2007". A 16" box made of 3/4" x 5 3/4" decking; 5' pieces I've ripped into 1 1/2" slats for the vertical supports; and 16" bamboo horizontal slats salvaged from last year's tomato pyramids. Not exactly elegant, but simple enough, providing distracting problem solving projects. And the price is right. (Free, minus labor.)

So, yeah, about 80 seedlings are currently sunning themselves on my back stoop, probably wondering to themselves, as they gaze upon my 1/10 acre, "Err... So where's he gonna plant us again?"

3 words: Tomato Orchard.

I've not mown my backyard since last fall. So I've been digging holes 6' apart about 24" in diameter and about 12" deep. I'll add a bit of seasoned cow manure, and maybe some seaweed. Add the fact that I over-seeded rye grass in October, and you don't need much imagination to realize that after some back-breaking digging, the top soil has quickly become The Great Prairie-like. It's a sight to behold, to be sure.

But as I do the geometry, that will only account for about 35 holes. So looks like I'll have to dig another hole in the middle of each 6' square. That might yield 50, at best.

I'm tired all the time. But my appetite has returned a little bit, and the work is honest, if slow.

It's all for her. I feel her presence, for lack of a better word, so I ask her advice on this and that. Sometimes there's an answer, usually me talking to myself.

A Tomato Orchard. Keep in mind the growing season down here is ridiculously long. The plants will be 6' tall and I'll have fruit from the middle of July through October, god willing, if all goes well. (Obviously I'm gonna have to give some seedlings away. I'll think of it as a spiritual tax.)

But I can say I do honestly feel her close, usually in an unexpected cool breeze I don't deserve. And it's explicably devastating. Perhaps, sooner rather than later, hopefully, it'll be less devastating and more... therapeutic.

Ironic, isn't it, that my mom* and dad spent their entire childhoods trying to get off the farm, while I'm spending my entire middle age trying to get on one. It would appear fate is not without a sense of humor.

I'll keep all y'all posted, if you'd care to follow me on this "trip".

Let the vineyards be fruitful, Lord,

And fill to the brim our cup of blessings.

Gather the harvest from the seeds that were sown

That we may be fed with the bread of life.

Gather the hopes and the dreams of all,

Unite them with the prayers we offer now.

Grace our table with your presence, and give us

A foretaste of the feast to come.

-from the Lutheran Liturgy for High Communion (from memory, so, sorry)

*Truth be told, I have it on good authority that my mother would've been perfectly happy as a farm wife. She told me as much. It was my dad who couldn't wait to get away.

1 comment:

Marianne said...

Isn't it amazing what we can hear and see when we're in between thoughts? Such a bittersweet feeling sometimes. All those tomato seeds sprouting is the affirmation that life continues - and in abundance.
Best regards,
Marianne in KS