I'm pretty sure I've invented a new phrase: tomato masochist. Someone who enjoys the pain associated with growing tomatoes. Because there is a lot of pain. The way I do it, anyway. And yet, I do it willingly, even happily.
I may be sick in the head.
Yesterday I put the first tomato plants actually in the ground. As is the case with so much of gardening, the actual planting took about 10 minutes. The prep before the planting could happen? Four hours.
First I had A. cut down some more bamboo from the bamboo forest for me. Then I trimmed all the bamboo, which involves using my pruning shears to clip off the top part and all the branches, so I end up with a stake. I needed 28 such stakes for 12 tomato plants. That's a lot of clipping. By the time I finished, my right hand was frozen in a claw and my forearm was screaming in protest.
No rest for the weary, though. Onward!
I dug up the two rows I was getting ready to plant, used the hoe to beat out the large clods of dirt, and then raked the area smooth. Then I measured out where the plants were to go and shoved in two bamboo stakes per plant, one on each side of the row, to correspond with the position of the (yet-to-be-planted) plants. After that, I tied the two stakes together at the top, forming a kind of teepee, after which I tied more stakes across the top of the teepees to create a really strong frame for tying the tomato plants up once they start producing and want to fall to the ground from their own weight.
You'd better be impressed by this, dammit.
See, last year, being a little slow on the uptake, I didn't put in stakes when I planted the tomatoes. I stupidly waited until they were actually starting to fall over a little, at which point the ground was as hard as iron and the stakes could only be pushed in about two inches. And I only put in one stake per plant. They weren't sturdy enough. I had a lot of toppling plants, which resulted in a lot of cussing and re-staking by me throughout the season. Something I was determined to avoid this year. That's why I ended up building the Golden Gate Bridge out of bamboo stakes in my garden to support my tomatoes.
Only after the framework was up did I actually put the plants in the ground. They look very small and insignificant underneath the great infrastructure that towers over them, but they'll grow into their new home. They should grow pretty fast now, as I put up some Walls o' Water for them (yet another exercise in pain, but I won't go into that at the moment) to keep them warmer and help them along.
I'm incredibly sore this morning, and in some weird places (apparently, the abdominal muscles are key when shoving stakes into the ground--who knew?), but at least half the tomatoes are planted. Only two more rows (and 28 stakes) to go. Bring on the tomato pain!
Yup, definitely sick in the head.