thefourthvine: Two people fucking, rearview: sex is the universal fandom. (Default)
Keep Hoping Machine Running ([personal profile] thefourthvine) wrote2010-08-01 10:23 am
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[Garden] The Tomatoes Are Coming

I wish to make it clear that I in no way blame [personal profile] lolaraincoat. Sure, she was the person who said to me, "Why not plant tomatoes? What's the worst that could happen?" but I am pretty well convinced that she didn't actually know what could, in fact, happen. (She lives in Canada. Probably the plants are kind and polite and restrained up there.) Really, it was my own fault; I should have taken a clue from the fact that the national chains were all selling little ordinary wire tomato cages, but our local garden store sold only these scary thick reinforced wire tomato cages that came in two sizes: wolverine and bear.

It turns out that this is because planting tomatoes in our climate is roughly akin to keeping a wolverine or a bear in your back yard. (Obviously, which animal it is depends on what kind of tomato you plant. Because I am extremely clever, I planted both. Wolverine and bear tomatoes do not, as I have learned to my cost, fight and thus cancel each other out; instead, they team up and destroy the world.)

A partial list of things our tomato plants have destroyed on their way to the inevitable (no, seriously, I am now convinced that this is where gardening always has to go) end of civilization as we know it:
  • The zucchini plants
  • The pumpkin plant (although we did get some very nice pumpkins first)
  • The green bean plants
  • A blueberry bush
  • My first herb garden, including the cilantro, thyme, oregano and mint (yes, mint, for serious)
  • A wooden trellis, uprooted and broken in two
  • A wire trellis, uprooted and hideously warped
  • Four of the standard wire cages, uprooted, bent, broken, and smushed to the ground, to the point that we cannot be entirely certain where most of them are
  • The garden containment bricks (next year, I will see if I can't get some highway crash barriers; those seem more likely to work)
[personal profile] thingswithwings was telling me a while back that her tomato plants are, like, ten feet high, with tentacles visibly reaching for passersby; our tomato plants got up nearly that high, but then they crushed their supports and flopped over on the ground. They are now more than ten feet long, but all horribly intertwined with each other. This would be less of a problem if I hadn't planted many different varieties in the same area; we have no way of telling anymore which tomatoes are on which plants, or indeed which plants are where; it's just a giant lump of greenery and tomatoes. And, of course, in a feat of unparalleled brilliance, I managed to plant a tomato that is green when ripe; we've spent a lot of time staring at the garden lately and saying, "Do you think those are the green zebras? They're stripey!" We have no idea when or if we should pick one.

We have, however, picked a lot of some kind of weird tomato that it turns out is ripe when it's dark red on the bottom and sort of greeny-black on top; they are incredibly tasty, although I try to eat them out of the line of sight of the living room windows, because the tomatoes can see in through those and I am concerned they will strike back.

Another thing I should possibly have thought twice before planting is basil. See, I have always before gotten basil in pots. The process with basil in pots is, in my experience, as follows:
  1. Purchase nice, good-smelling, healthy-looking basil in a pot.
  2. (Optional) Pick a couple of leaves.
  3. Throw away dead basil plant a week later. Save pot or not, as you choose.
In all my years of buying basil plants, this never varied. I tried watering more. I tried watering less. I tried keeping the pot in a window, on the counter, in a bathroom. I tried not picking and picking leaves. A week after purchase - maybe two at the outside - I always had a dead basil plant. (If you are wondering why I kept buying things I knew would die: it's hard to believe a plant will betray you. They look so green and innocent! Come to think of it, that's pretty much the same reason I keep gearing up and heading out to my garden now.) So when I planted basil this year, I bought two plants and then added another that I grew from seed. I figured then I'd get, like, maybe FIVE leaves before they all died.

Apparently what basil really likes is to be planted outside. I put mine in a big container (because the tomatoes had already taken out most of the herb garden; this was back when I thought that was the worst they would do, not realizing they were sort of pausing and licking their chops prior to really getting down to business), and now I have a giant basil bush. I go out, I pick a little basil - not enough to make any difference in the size of the bush, but just enough to keep it sort of roughly contained - and once I get it indoors, I realize I have a huge amount of basil, such that in addition to serving it (with the tomatoes, of course) that night, I'm going to have to make some more pesto to freeze.

I tell you what: I now completely understand why tomatoes and basil so often appear in the same recipes. It's because of gardenerly desperation.

Gardenerly desperation is actually a major factor in nearly everything I do in the garden these days. I had no idea so much calamity would be involved. Gardening is dangerous, and let no one tell different. These days, I cannot believe they sell seeds without requiring a gardening license. And maybe a firearms license, too.

One of the tomato patches, early on. Later, I added further plants behind these ones. This was an error. Note the weeny wire cages.

Part of the same patch now. Note how there is one of the weeny wire frames in the photo; it is no longer connected to the ground. The other ones - the one above and the two I added later - are somewhere under the tomato mass. Near the back, there's part of the one bear-sized reinforced wire cage I bought, still holding steady. (Most of the tomatoes we've picked came from this one. Tomatoes apparently feel more ready to ripen when securely contained.)
sprocket: Red and yellow leaf image (Default)

[personal profile] sprocket 2010-08-01 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
My first herb garden, including the cilantro, thyme, oregano and mint (yes, mint, for serious)

Mint is a known menace: once it's in the ground, it takes over everything. When I threaten to start an herb garden, gardeners in earshot mutter "not mint" until I promise to put it in a pot. On the gray desert we call a front patio.

I'm used to relatively tame tomatoes; the idea that they would win a tomatoes vs mint cage match makes me cringe in my soul for the future of gardening everywhere.
sage: Still of Natasha Romanova from Iron Man 2 (Default)

[personal profile] sage 2010-08-01 05:53 pm (UTC)(link)
ahahahahaha, you see, this is exactly where Attack of the Killer Tomatoes came from. *g*

(also, you will get vastly more fruit out of each plant if it isn't devoting most of its energy to leaf-production. You can prune back up to a third of the plant-mass at a time, and for normal tomato maintenance, you just pinch off the little diagonal branchlets that try to pop out between the main stem and a horizontal branch. Cut those suckers off. You'll get so much more fruit for the trouble.)

I'm in basil-envy. Mine's still alive, barely, but 100° heat isn't any good for it, and the leaves are no good for salad if they're crispy from sunburn. *awaits autumn impatiently*
reginagiraffe: Stick figure of me with long wavy hair and giraffe on shirt. (Default)

[personal profile] reginagiraffe 2010-08-01 05:57 pm (UTC)(link)
*dies laughing*

Why do I keep hearing the "Jaws" theme song running through my head?
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2010-08-01 05:57 pm (UTC)(link)
They conquered the zucchini AND the pumpkin plants? Wow.
ignaz: icon by me, art by anne taintor (Default)

[personal profile] ignaz 2010-08-01 05:58 pm (UTC)(link)
nestra: (Default)

[personal profile] nestra 2010-08-01 05:58 pm (UTC)(link)
Despite everything we've tried, including neglect and winter, our basil always flourishes.

However, we've never managed to grow dill, despite the entire internet saying that dill is the easiest thing in the world to grow and requires no thought at all.

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[personal profile] minim_calibre - 2010-08-01 19:25 (UTC) - Expand
calathea: (Default)

[personal profile] calathea 2010-08-01 06:00 pm (UTC)(link)
The problem with tomato plants is that you do have to be ultra vigilant about nipping off unwanted growth earlier in the season. They you have a (relatively) well behaved plant and a lot more tomatoes. We used to grow about a dozen plants every year in our greenhouse in the house I lived in as a teenager and my mum and I would spend a good amount of time every afternoon keeping the plants from taking over the entire structure.

That said, you could still prune now to get some more visibility of the fruit. Try not to prune leaves that are directly shading a cluster of fruit -- they like sun but too much direct sun gets them overheated and the skin cracks.

/tomato expertise, apparently
thingswithwings: parker smelling a delicious orange (lev - parker mmmm food!)

[personal profile] thingswithwings 2010-08-01 06:19 pm (UTC)(link)
I fear your tomatoes! In addition to already fearing my own, of course. Like you, we've seen the great height followed by the great breadth of the tomato civilization - first they went up and up and up and then they flopped over and intertwined hopelessly and began their campaign to take over the entire backyard. They are now reaching for the swingset on one side, and the fence on the other. I fear that if they make it over (or through) the fence they'll realise that the backyard is not the whole world, that there are MILES AND MILES of world out there to eat explore eat, and will only be stopped when they come up against your tomatoes' territory.

And I will note for the record that this NEVER happened to me when I lived in Canada.

PS, I love how innocent that first photo is. It's like you actually believed that all those plants would stay in their nice little rows and designated areas while subserviently producing fruit and herbs! Oh, the naivete.

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[personal profile] giglet - 2010-08-01 19:34 (UTC) - Expand
shadowvalkyrie: (Saving Universes)

[personal profile] shadowvalkyrie 2010-08-01 06:23 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm following the development of your garden drama with great sadistically amused interest. ":-D

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[personal profile] shadowvalkyrie - 2010-08-01 19:28 (UTC) - Expand
fjbryan: (Default)

[personal profile] fjbryan 2010-08-01 06:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Gardenerly desperation

Snicker! Good luck with the firearms--that might keep them from invading the house.
schemingreader: (Default)

[personal profile] schemingreader 2010-08-01 06:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Would you like some lists of things to make with tomatoes and things to make with pesto? Besides the obvious glories of making pizza this fall and winter with pesto and tomato sauce. Not to mention, Mondo Bizarro sauce, the combination tomato sauce/pesto combo from the first Moosewood cookbook.

Stuffed tomatoes are good. You can fill them with dal.

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[personal profile] schemingreader - 2010-08-01 19:53 (UTC) - Expand

[personal profile] lilmoka 2010-08-01 06:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Your garden is scary O_O I never thought tomatoes could be so evil, LOL
peoriapeoriawhereart: Ray gotta eat him up with a big spoon (Ray with marshmellow creme)

[personal profile] peoriapeoriawhereart 2010-08-01 06:48 pm (UTC)(link)
A few thing about the cages. The little ones are jokes, and only the bear and wolverine ones are actually useful for tomatoes, while the others are suited to peppers and eggplants. Next year, the basil should be planted in between the tomatoes, and the squash trellised. They'll keep the air moist for the tomatoes and they won't fight so much.

I'm still a bit away from more than the occasional taste of tomato. But, I did eat many raspberries.

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[personal profile] giglet - 2010-08-01 20:17 (UTC) - Expand
killing_rose: Raven/corvid in the frozen surf (Default)

[personal profile] killing_rose 2010-08-01 06:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Pick the tomatoes even if you think it might be the green zebra ones--make fried green tomatoes or somesuch.

(No, really, they're good. Even if you don't bread them and saute them more than fry them.)

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[personal profile] killing_rose - 2010-08-01 19:29 (UTC) - Expand
emeraldsword: colin morgan, text 'bugger' (colin bugger)

[personal profile] emeraldsword 2010-08-01 07:21 pm (UTC)(link)
*dies laughing*

I too believe that plants are on a quest for world domination - we only have a lawn and that is a CONSTANT hassle!

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[personal profile] giglet - 2010-08-01 20:19 (UTC) - Expand

[personal profile] axelrod 2010-08-01 07:27 pm (UTC)(link)
What did you do to your soil and has it been patented already?

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[personal profile] killing_rose - 2010-08-01 19:30 (UTC) - Expand

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[personal profile] axelrod - 2010-08-01 19:32 (UTC) - Expand
minim_calibre: (Default)

[personal profile] minim_calibre 2010-08-01 07:27 pm (UTC)(link)

my puny tomatoes envy your climate.

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[personal profile] mermaid - 2010-08-01 22:22 (UTC) - Expand

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crysothemis: (pears)

[personal profile] crysothemis 2010-08-01 08:20 pm (UTC)(link)
You need tomato ladders! I use two per plant, and if you wire them together, you can trap 6 feet of reaching, groping vine. Well, you do have to keep tucking any stems inside the ladder, but it works until they get too tall (which my tomatoes do -- I think they're about 12 feet high now, but that's only because I have no sun).

Show those tomatoes who's in charge!
toft: graphic design for the moon europa (Default)

[personal profile] toft 2010-08-01 08:46 pm (UTC)(link)
Aaaugh! I think I actually recoiled from the second picture. They can't come through the internet, right?
jumpuphigh: Pigeon with text "jumpuphigh" (Default)

[personal profile] jumpuphigh 2010-08-01 08:53 pm (UTC)(link)
I think these particular tomatoes may manage to achieve that.

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[personal profile] qem_chibati 2010-08-01 09:47 pm (UTC)(link)

My husband wants to set up a garden, so I am taking notes from all of this, and will make sure that we have bushwackers prepared in advance.

bell: a kitten from behind, its tail curled (kitty tail curl)

[personal profile] bell 2010-08-01 10:11 pm (UTC)(link)
Heeee, I see the Earthling's head in the first photo. :D I hope he is not lost in the tangles of the second photo?!??!
jibrailis: (caprica -- zoe)

[personal profile] jibrailis 2010-08-01 10:26 pm (UTC)(link)
She lives in Canada. Probably the plants are kind and polite and restrained up there.

Yes, but when they do rise up and try to strangle you, you never see it coming! (My family used to grow tomatoes on our porch. I was genuinely worried that our porch would collapse under the weight of their furious growth).
cereta: Me as drawn by my FIL (Food from the Ground)

[personal profile] cereta 2010-08-01 10:43 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I am definitely making a ton a caprese right now, because we are DROWNING in tomatoes and basil. We've also reached the point where I'm desperately staking up tomato branches.
archersangel: (filler)

[personal profile] archersangel 2010-08-02 12:39 am (UTC)(link)
watch when you grab in there for tomatoes. there could be tomato horn worms that have a stinger on it's rear.

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[personal profile] kathmandu - 2010-08-06 22:22 (UTC) - Expand
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)

[personal profile] lilacsigil 2010-08-02 01:08 am (UTC)(link)
We had green zebras last summer! They are ripe (and super delicious) when they are dark yellow and green on the bottom.

...also, I thought our tomatoes were feral (they started going into nearby trees) but ours have nothing on that.

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