Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Homes for Tomatoes

The arugula has already bolted.

We spent the weekend making homes for tomatoes. Digging nice, deep holes, spaced a bit too close, and slamming in stakes in the ground for makeshift cages. Running baling wire 'round the cages for horizontal support. Buying clear plastic to frame them in for added heat; then realizing we really needed Walls of Water instead. Sowing bee balm, calendula, Thai basil, oregano, and nasturtium in the plot so that, when finished, this one piece of earth is a verdant eruption of vining Scarlet runner beans and Lemon Queen sunflowers, hot peppers and green and black and red tomatoes; an Eden awake with blooming and buzzing and the pungent taste of herbs.

Makeshift tomato cages in progress in the new garden area.

From this fenced plot I can see my chickens sorting through the straw, scratching every square centimeter of yard in their patient search for bugs. Running with pieces of thrown dandelion, pursued by other chickens, because nobody wants to share. Blissfully napping under the big lilac, in abnegation of the sun. I have never seen them from this view before; they look cuter than usual.

Sasquatch the Brahma

To my left, in another bed, I have lettuces in untidy rows like the bustling organdy of a recital of small green tutus. Varieties run from spiky to solid, smooth to soft, and my favorite Black-seeded Simpson is dressed in wavering lines. Next to them, onions and leeks have become tall princesses, wearing tiaras of static-shocked electric white, their feet emerging in white and red bulbs in the rich dark soil of the covered bed. Among the edibles, a single columbine has bloomed and hangs a flower like a lantern for fairies lost among the peas. White pea flowers sit next to forming baby pods, sugary and innocent. Undiscovered asparagus spears have shot up to tickle the atmosphere, spreading in ferns and hanging berries, which drop into the mud. Carrots do their work deep beneath the soil, sending only their punk hairdos up.

Carrots, onions, lettuces in the cold crop bed.

In another bed, Egyptian onions have set blossoms next to chives like firecrackers—green sprays tipped with purple asterisks. Cucumbers volunteer from last year and poke their leaves out of the straw mulch. Jerusalem artichoke is everywhere, but still earthbound, nothing more than leaves spreading just above the soil. I have to use my imagination to remember what it is.

This is a Welsh bunching onion next to some Jerusalem artichokes in my perennial edible bed.

All of these plants live here. In a way, it doesn't look like much. Just a bunch of beginnings. Very little now that you can eat. And yet, there is nowhere I am happier than here, with my husband beside me, armed like Thor with his sledgehammer, putting the stakes just where I say. The two of us, in the shadow of my crabapple and my honeysuckle, making beginnings, putting work to hope, with faith that things will grow.

Ready to be planted! Northern NM nights are cold. The full bottles behind the peppers are for thermal mass.


  1. Wow! That looks ambitious.

    I now feel even lazier. And also hungry.

  2. Tara, you sure know a lot about vegetables and your descriptive talents are amazing! You do have a gift for metaphor! I love the lettuce tutus!

  3. The beginnings of your garden are beautiful. I, like you, love Black Seeded Simpson lettuce. My Dad was the person who got me hooked on it.

  4. I'm totally coming over. :-)

  5. I love me some gardening porn. ;)


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