Saturday, June 29, 2013

four tomato plants, forty dollars and four hours later

    You see, the best luck I ever had growing tomatoes was when I was living in the middle floor of a triple-decker in Medford MA. I bought some cherry tomato plants on impulse outside at the local Rite Aid, (the one we could walk to, on the corner of Rt 60 & Rt 28, on the border with Malden).
    I put the tomato plants in giant plastic flower pots on the back porch and they produced wonderful tomatoes. The only plant that didn't produce tomatoes was in the smallest of the big pots, so I reasoned that you need big pots to produce tomatoes.
    Fast forward thirteen years and on impulse I buy a 4-pack of cherry tomato plants from the Farm and Flower Market in Manchester NH. I planted them in the only surviving pot on the back porch but I knew it was just a temporary tomato home. Weeks have gone by. The tomatoes are too big and one is toppling over. My husband has suggested the idea that he might build a "raised bed" garden for them at the end of the driveway, but that has not happened.
    Today I take one of the kids and we go to Devrient Farm to get a bag of potting soil. They're out, but I leave with a flower pot containing a 'pickling' cucumber plant, and some fresh off-the-truck strawberries to just eat. They suggest Goffstown Hardware for the potting soil.
    I look in Big Lots for big pots but don't want to pay $14 for an ugly one. I try Goffstown Hardware store and the hardware guy sells me a 'kit' for building a raised garden bed ("These were on sale last week, but today I'll still give you the sale rate of $29.99." "Will it fit all four tomato plants?" "Oh, yes.") and a bag of garden soil that the guy says will be big enough but I don't think so. It remains to be seen.
    I spend an hour searching the house for a screwdriver with the right bit and my electric drill ("Before I married, I had an electric drill with all the bits in the package. Where is it? And where's the case for my profile sander? Why is it out of its case? And how do I know the missing drill bits aren't buried in this sawdust? Can't you clean the sawdust.." most of which was said downstairs while my husband the target of all this was upstairs. Probably a good thing.) and then trying to figure out the relatively simple directions for putting together the 4x4 raised bed kit: four posts, eight boards, 20 screws, and 4 square caps for the posts.
    I dig out the section near the front door where we've decided to put it. Not as sunny as it ought to be, but the underlying soil is good there, unlike near the driveway where it's not. It's also a pretty spot to add a 4x4 mini-corral, so we could always plant shade-loving flowers if the tomatoes don't work out. For this season, it's also a good spot because we'll see the tomatoes as we walk in and out and remember to take care of them.
    I cut up the grass by stepping on the shovel. I find lots of small rocks and four very large flat-ish rocks, three of which I pull out of the square. With all those rocks out, it is now a sunken garden bed. After pulling out the third rock and standing it up against the 'raised bed' fence I was just too tired to do any more.
    Shower and supper. To be continued tomorrow.
    Tomatoes and their new cuke pal are still on the back porch.

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