punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Punkie, Punkie, Year of the Monkey... how does your garden grow?

I couldn't think of a lamer title.

Anyway, another funny thing about me is that I grow great tomatoes, but I don't like them. I mean, I like tomato sauce in things, but I can never eat a tomato slice, or a whole tomato. They are always too... vinegary and bitter. So it comes as a weird surprise to me I grow them really well.

I have mentioned this before in my blog, but we are the perpetuators of the Ancestral Tomatoes. These seeds have been passed down, year after year, through Christine's family since the 1800s. Originally, tradition tells, these were called "Abe Lincoln Tomatoes," although no one quite knows where the name came from (I doubt from Abe Lincoln, I think they were from some strain long forgotten). Well, these things have been grown, eaten, and seeded every year for over 140 years or more. We got them in 2000 from Christine's Uncle Wayne, who is the only grower still alive. We planted them in 2001, and they grew really well, although a huge dry heat wave made most of them crack and split. It was a good thing because in 2001, Uncle Wayne lost ALL his tomatoes when he accidentally over fertilized them. It turns out that giving us seedlings were the only way the strain survived. What a trip and catch! So we gave him seeds from 2001, and he's using them.

In 2002, we had a LOT of seedlings, which we gave excesses away to friends. One friend grew them in pure MiracleGrow, but the plant grew way too quickly, and the fruit came out bitter. Another grew them and they died when they got bashed around in a huge storm. But ours grew and we seeded them for 2003.

I don't know why, but we never got around to making seedlings that year. Finally, I just made my own seedlings very late in the summer, and didn't follow any directions Uncle Wayne had given us about time, water, and fertilizer. I wanted to see what happened. Well, out of the 9 I planted, only 4 sprouted, and two of those died for some reason when they got about a foot high. I accidentally stepped on one while weeding, and it died. But the one last survivor... grew ginormous. Look at it on the right there. One plant took over the whole damn garden. It grew 4 times as large as any other we have had. Hurricane Isabel flattened it, but it did not die... it just crawled up the juniper you see behind it like ivy before finally, the first big freeze killed it. One plant. 40 tomatoes. Many of them larger than a grapefruit. And everyone said they were really, really good. Uncle Wayne said his only grew to be smaller than normal.

So I am the "expert tomato grower" now. I also got cucumber (which I actually DO like), herbs, and some annuals (flowers) to play with for 2004. I am going to try and work on a small garden this year, although where exactly I am going top put the cucumbers puzzles me. Eh, I'll figure it out. I got a seedling starter tray, some small peat pots, and some seedling starter soil. We'll grow the seedlings in the guest room like we did in 2002, and then in May, put them out.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000396.html
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