Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tomato Masochist


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.

15 comments:

Mayberry Magpie said...

That is some serious tomato devotion. Wish I could claim the same. I am duly impressed. And lazy. I don't have to stake flowers, or tend them much, which is why I grow them instead of veggies.

Sara said...

But think of all the delicious tomatoes you'll be eating! For months...and months...and months!

Constantina said...

We staked up too late last year too--and it wasn't even that late!--and will trellis mad early this year, amen.

Anonymous said...

Now you know why you are SO fit. Tomato staking excersize and pupping wrangling, sheep shearing, dead animal off pitch fork tossing, deer butchering, wedding planner,canning,cow racing, water hauling, getting the wagon out of the lake,feeding/housing the animals. The reason our ancestors could eat anything they wanted. They worked like sam hill to just stay alive.

Phoo-D said...

I know just where you're coming from! After gardening and completely altering the slope of a hill last weekend I am limping around the office this week. Who knew you used inner thighs to roll back sod? Your trelis looks beautiful!

FinnyKnits said...

Those tomatoes better be grateful for their cool tepee setup by producing enough tomatoes so that you're still eating them at Christmas.

You tell them that when you're out there watering.

OR ELSE. That usually helps, too.

Anonymous said...

The best way to support your tomato plants is with The Tomato Stake.

Easier to use than metal cages or upside down planters, stronger than bamboo and won't rot like wood stakes. The built-in twist-tie supports make tying your tomato plants easy!

Kristin @ Going Country said...

Best? Perhaps. Cheapest? Nope. I'm stickin' with the free bamboo, thanks.

Daisy said...

I'm waiting to put my plants in, but I could prep the area. Eggshells, shredded newspaper...that's my drill.

Chiot's Run said...

So worth it though when you eat those delicious tomatoes.

I wish I had bamboo forest to glean steaks from, I have to buy mine locally. I tried using sassafrass sapplings last year and it looked like I was torturing my tomatoes into producing.

mdvelazquez said...

I don't know why it didn't occur to me to put the stakes in before hand. Thanks for the tip. I was ambitious this year and planted five different types of tomatoes.

mdvelazquez said...

P.S. What kind of tomatoes did you plant?

Kristin @ Going Country said...

I have Black Krim, Jet Star, Primetime, Giant Tree, Celebrity, Baby Cakes, Stupice, Roma, and San Marzano.

Garden Pheenix said...

I share your passion for the matoe and growing them in Ireland is a whole other ballgame. So far I have failed round one as per my blog lol. Trying again though out of sheer stubbornness. I just can't help it... I love my tomatoes.

And I am damn impressed with your tomatoe structure woman :cD And glad you're not taken in by expensive metal stakes lol.

SixBalloons said...

I learned the same unpleasant lesson about staking last season. This year, I have dutifully plopped the stakes in and secured the plants to them the same I transplanted.