Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The good, the bad ... the happy, the sad, of growing tomatoes

Miguel, had to leave for his home country of Guatemala in a hurry due to some family crisis leaving his garden in our care. I took it upon myself to prune his tomatoes heavily as I have learnt from experience that the wet, cool weather we were presently experiencing brings "THE BLIGHT", the terror of west coast tomato growers. All was going very well. I was cutting though the jungle of closely planted tomato bushes, creating airflow and minimizing the tangle of overkill shoots upon shoots that overzealous tomato plants are famous for and then ...

I came across a plant showing the classic signs of "THE BLIGHT" ... stems turning black infiltrated by the disease moving along the healthy green stems. So I ripped the entire plant from the ground and threw it out.

We had cleaned up all cuttings and the infected plant and threw it all into the trash rather than the compost so as not to spread the infection, when we hear this fury coming towards us. Unfortunately, it was not one of Miguel's plants I had pulled out, it belonged to another resident who shared the box with Miguel. She was coming towards us at full sail, bellowing like a bull and shaking with indignation. I had ripped out her tomato plant with the little cherry tomatoes on it that she had been nurturing so tenderly and awaited with great anticipation.

Well, Dorothy jumped into the fray and the two went at it in Chinese and with me humbly apologizing, empathizing and explaining in turn, to no avail. It took half an hour for her fury to abate enough before she could accept what had happened. I had to pull the garbage bag out of the dumpster and find her plant ... the one with the cheery tomatoes and show here the black stems before I saw a glimmer of understanding in her face. It will probably take longer for to actually forgive me. I learnt a powerful lesson ... come between a gardener and her treasured tomato plant at your own peril!

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