Thursday, May 8, 2008
Enviro-Girl is a tomato snob. She turns her nose up at the pale, tasteless globes at the supermarket. She has no time for the bland taste of a Miracle-Gro-infused Early Girl. She desires the sun-kissed taste of a heirloom tomato fresh-picked. She wants the warm tart juice to explode in her mouth, the slight grit of dirt in her teeth as she bites into a Mr. Stripy or a Yellow Brandywine. The best tomato comes straight off the vine, the second straight from a farmer's bushel basket. What she can't eat fresh after the canker sores take over her mouth, she blanches and freezes to eat over the winter, steadfastly refusing to buy a tomato shipped 1,500 miles on a semi to her local grocer.
Unfortunately, she's also hopeless when it comes to growing tomatoes. The suckers get ahead of her and overnight they seem to grow a foot and topple over. Her stakes snap and bend. Mice and spiders, protected by the foliage, infest and ingest Enviro-Girl's tomatoes. The fruit ripens at once, inevitably in the beginning of September after school has started. When Enviro-Girl taught, this meant her tomatoes rotted on the vine while she took attendance and assigned sentences to diagram. Now that she has children in school, this means she is plotting the Happyland PTA's agenda and next event,coordinating school schedules with activities, and smelling the first frost on the horizon.
In short, Enviro-Girl's capacity to nurture and grow a tomato plant is cursed. Each season ends with her humble phone call to the organic farmer up the road, pleading for a bushel or so of whatever he's willing to sell her so she can freeze a dozen or so bags of sweet summer goodness.
Then last year she heard of a new approach to growing tomatoes--plant them high and let them grow upside-down!
Well! No pests can hide in the foliage since they can't even reach a tomato planted this way. (Note the vulgar gesture she flips towards the field where the mice scurry and hide. Hah!) No staking is required and any rotten tomatoes should, in theory, drop right off the vine and onto the ground below. Enviro-Girl is designing her buckets this weekend and hanging them on the ends of those T-shaped clothesline poles her grandpa made. She plans to snap off the suckers every time she heads to the clotheslines to hang the wash and water them daily. Enviro-Girl is excited to achieve her first genuine Tomato Success this summer through this unconventional method--she'll keep you posted on how it goes.
*Read more about Upside-Down Tomatoes here.