Reflections — The transitioning garden and it’s symbolism

This year I used a paper weed barrier that will disintegrate over the summer.

This year I used a paper weed barrier that will disintegrate over the summer.

There are visions of ripe tomatoes dancing in my head. I love tomatoes the same way I love a margarita or a mocha latte. And so the saga continues.

This week I planted my garden. I am very late. The vegetables I planted like warm soil and our soil hasn’t been warm. Tomatoes, basil, cucumbers and parsley went in. Finally.

I have been planting a garden since I was a kid. It is difficult to find really tasty tomatoes. Most stores and even farm stands refrigerate them and that kills the flavor. So each year spurred on by dreams of tomatoes, I dig, plant and reap the rewards.

Every year it gets more daunting.

I don’t know if it’s the desire or interest or energy level or just plain aging. Bags of top soil and mulch are heavier. Digging is harder. For the same job (with less plants) it’s a bigger project.

I have cut back considerably. Last year I had enough tomatoes for myself. The neighbors were out of luck. This year I planted even less plants.

I have always loved working around the house, indoors and out. House projects, as long as they are not too daunting, are fun. (OMG! I said wrote that out loud!)

Not so much anymore. I love sitting and admiring the finished project. I can do that for hours. The hoisting and bending, stooping and redoing are not my favorite parts.

The days of paying a neighborhood kid $20 to dig your garden are long gone. Kids don’t need $20 and they don’t have the time with all their activities. Besides I rarely see kids dirty these days.

I remember when my mother stopped planting her garden. She was in her 70s and it was just too much work. For me it was a sad day. Not because of the garden but for what it symbolized. I had an aging parent who would leave me one day soon.

Now I am at that same point. Perhaps next year is the time to put the tomato plant in a pot on the patio.

Of course, I said that last year. As long as there is a spark of enthusiasm over that silly tomato, I still go out and plant. For another year. You never know which year will be the last.

Here are those damn tomatoes that entice me.

Here are those damn tomatoes that entice me. I can just taste them!

 

48 thoughts on “Reflections — The transitioning garden and it’s symbolism

  1. I think it’s wise to just concentrate on the size plot that will make it an enjoyable showing for you and not to plant for the neighbors! I have done that in the past–the idea that if 3-6 plants is doable, why not a dozen? I hope you’ll find a way to keep your lovely garden tomatoes for many years to come. They bring you joy, and that’s reason enough to hoist those garden bags. 🙂

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    • That made me smile. It’s also going to the garden center and not being decisive. You know…maybe I’ll try this variety or that…then you end up with a dozen plants for 2 people. No more. I bought vine-ripened tomatoes this week at our upscale grocer and they were pretty bland. They were also cold so they had been refrigerated. However, with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, a little balsamic and salt and pepper, I was in heaven.

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  2. Ummmmm…carry a salt shaker out to the garden. Wipe it off on my jeans and bite right in. Nothing better! And I don’t think you planted too late…You’ll just be that much more ready when you finally get your first crop! ~Lynn

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    • I had to put mine in a dog pen to save them from the deer and groundhogs but I still have to share with chipmunks (who love tomatoes!) and birds. Normally it’s only a struggle at the beginning when we fight for the first few. After that there are enough to satisfy us all.

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    • I’d like to keep on growing at least tomatoes, basil and parsley. I long ago gave up beans, pickling cucumbers, squash, carrots and potatoes (which by the way are wonderful and easy to grow). We are dwindling down to just a few important crops. We have a farm place where we get fabulous corn and most vegetables but they refrigerate their tomatoes.

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  3. I don’t know what to say, but I hope you do it as long as possible. In the last year there have been things I have given up, and each breaks my heart. I’m younger than you but less healthy. I would love to have young guys do chores … Sigh. A different age, I guess …

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    • Perhaps we were born to be plantation ladies with staff. Over the last 5 to 10 years I have cut back on a lot of activities. I won’t do bleacher chairs without backs for concerts. I don’t like sitting in the sun for games or really long car rides. Each individual change goes unnoticed until one day you realize that the things you do and enjoy are different. While there is a sadness, it’s not that I’m unhappy. What makes me happy changed. Oh yes, I won’t do anything without a nearby functioning bathroom that means no street vendors or carnival food. Of course now I am germ phobic it doesn’t seem so bad.

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  4. Two years ago we planted tomatoes and other veggies. Last year, we had a ton of volunteer tomatoes (from discarded seeds of the tomatoes a year before) so we were able to enjoy them without the hassle of planting them. This year, no volunteers in sight (darn it!) so I think I’ll try a plant or two in containers…. maybe… later (fortunately we have a late growing season here).

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  5. My dad was one of those people who would go out and grow his own fruit and vegetables. He grew up on a farm and so he never really saw it as hard working in the garden around the house. But as hard as I find it to be, I also find it rewarding. There is also something quite therapeutic about tending to the plants, making sure to help them produce as much as possible, The physical nature of it all can become taxing as I age (I hate admitting that), but I want to keep doing it as long as possible, too. Kate, I hope you get overrun by your tomato output this year. :O)

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  6. So true — supermarket tomatoes suck. I remember the first time Andy brought some heirlooms home from the farmer’s market. A little olive oil, salt, and fresh mozzarella and it was heaven.

    I think I grew up believe tomatoes had no taste.

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    • We always grew our own (except for the winter pink ones in cellophane packs). I eat them with a little balsamic and salt. In a sandwich with a slice of sweet onion. Popped in the mouth when I’m in the garden. Clearly I need meetings.

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  7. I didn’t know that it was refrigeration that killed the taste of tomatoes.

    I’ve always thought it was because they were hothouse. I assumed they need to struggle and get their fight club face on to produce a really tasty tomato.

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  8. Tomatoes are just about my very favorite food in the world (except for chocolate of course). So as I understand it soil and mulch and things are much lighter over my way. I could find it in my heart to allow you to garden behind our house.

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  9. Seems like all my excess energy goes to the cat program. I am very fortunate that my hubbie still loves the gardening and plants veges for us each year. Can’t wait for them to grow…nothing like fresh picked veges.

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    • My husband is wonderful but he is not a gardener. If I didn’t plant, there would be no garden. We did a garden center run this morning and checked to see if they had those rectangular patio plants. We were checking for the future. They didn’t. Maybe next year.

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    • It all depends on your love of vegetables. There is nothing better than from garden to mouth. Back in the day of my mother’s garden there was corn on the cob. It was picked and made within minutes. Nothing better. Except maybe the fabulous tomatoes.

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    • I used to plant 9 tomato plants. There are 2 of us so you can do the math. I have downsized. I have 5 plants this year but that was because I couldn’t find what I wanted so I ended up trying 2 different ones to replace it. Next year maybe that pot.

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  10. Our onions, tomatoes and green beans are doing very well in our buckets! We took a chance with gsrlic too, and three of the four have shot up! I miss our veg patch and apple tree though. Nothing like going out into the garden and picking what you want for dinner.

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  11. Until we moved to Florida, we grew tomatoes. Now, I just make an annual pilgrimage to Hunsader Farms to pick them at $2 a bucket. One day of work for a bucket of JOY! (And, yes, we are enjoying them to the MAX.)

    Hope your tomatoes do well despite the late-ish start.

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  12. The store tomatoes are terrible. Just something colorful to put in a salad. 😦 Keep gardening as long as you can. 🙂 I never enjoyed doing it, but my husband found enjoyment in it.
    (actually I never did it…)

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  13. I wonder about things like this, too. My pots of herbs get smaller and fewer each year. The deck on which they sit remains the same size, but my energy is flagging. I’ve decided that as long as I enjoy something I’ll continue with it, if only in a tiny way, to remind myself of what is possible. I don’t have to have it all, just some of it.

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    • I have a few perennial herbs in the ground (sage and thyme) which I rarely use. Parsley and basil are staples in our summer menu. Tomatoes show up every day in our food chain. Even today, I bought some “vine-grown” ones that were cool to the touch so I know they had them refrigerated. Boogers. More pots on the deck….or not. Maybe more wine on the deck instead. (Can you grow that?)

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