Saturday, April 15, 2017

Dueling Tomatoes

Southern women grow tomatoes. It's what they do.  Whether they like them or not, tradition dictates that they don a floppy hat and dig in the dirt.  I have failed at my duty to produce any red, ripe delicious tomatoes. This year will be different!

My plan began with eyeballing a spot on the pool deck and deciding exactly where one fancy plant would grow under my careful watch.  It would be protected from the woodland creatures that eat everything in our real garden and would be close enough to the water hose to allow me to keep it hydrated and happy.

My husband watched as I planted my single tomato plant and questioned what I was doing.  "We have a full garden of tomato plants," he reminded me.  The problem is the fact that he is an overzealous gardener and when the first sign of a beefy boy tomato shows, he picks it while green and delivers miniature tomatoes to my kitchen.  I simply want one fully developed, red, ripe tomato.

"I'm suppose to grow tomatoes,'' I reminded him, "This one is mine."  And with that one sentence, the competition began.

The next day, a new plant arrived on my pool deck.  Sitting next to mine, was a full size tomato plant, full of yellow buds and already developed tiny green tomatoes. I eyed this mystery plant with suspicion and my husband pointed out that his tomato plant was doing much better than mine.  I glanced over at my tiny green twig poking out of its pot and gave it words of encouragement to hurry up and grow.  My husband groomed his plant with love and pointed out all of the little tomatoes just waiting to be served up on his sandwiches.  He reminded me that this was his plant and that I should not disturb it.  I smiled and returned to grooming my tiny plant with three leaves and little hope.

I've considered replacing my plant with a fully packed case of ripe tomatoes and simply leaving it on the pool deck.  However, I'm determined to be true to my roots and grow one large tomato before the summer ends.

A few days after our pool garden began, I arrived home from work and found my husband's plant withered and begging for water.  It had baked in the full sun.  My tiny tomato plant was standing up strong and happy.  I retrieved the water hose and started to water his plant and realized that I could be accused of sabotage if anything went wrong.  I hesitated.  As I stared at the tomato laden plant, my nurturing instinct kicked in and I bathed it in a soft mist of water and saved it from certain demise.

My husband's plant will certainly yield produce long before mine does, but it's okay.  I will tend to my tiny plant each day until that one prize tomato arrives.  In the meantime, I have secretly planted a banana pepper plant on the other side of the fence.  Imagine his surprise when I show up with full size peppers!  Let the games continue.