Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hot Tomato!

"Tomato Juliet" guarantees sweet, tasty cherry tomatoes: they're out but not yet ripe as you can see.

During the summer in California, people don't ask you how you are doing, or who you are dating, or how is your grandmother.  They ask you if your tomatoes are out yet.

California's Central Valley has always grown enough fruits and vegetables to feed practically the whole world, but in patches and on patios all over the state people insist on having their own little gardens.

I said to someone in my favorite store the other day that "my tomatoes are out." And she, looking very concerned asked, "Are they ripe yet?"

Fort Chapman's summer garden.

I was able to reassure her that no, they were "out" but they were not yet "ripe." Boy was she relieved.

I have "Martino's Roma," the hourglass-shaped tomato that you are supposed to cook with, but, being cooking challenged I think I'll just put in my salads.
"Martino" is hard to spot but he's in there, at about 12:00 o'clock high.

"Tomato Juliet" has fruit (see first photo above) and so does "Fourth of July."

You have to look closely, but "Fourth" is in there, just at the center of the photo.

It says right on the label that "Fourth" is: "The first tomato to ripen by Independence Day!" So hold that thought.

In honor of my father's strange fascination with pumpkins, I've planted several "Big Max" pumpkin plants. My Aunt Ruth told me I was supposed to remove all but two buds from the "Big Max" plants, but I just haven't had the heart to do it.  I guess I'd rather have a bunch of small Maxes than risk having just a couple of big ones that don't make it.

That's one of the "Big Maxes" in all his glory.

There are cucumbers too.  And those seem happy. But I have yet to see a cuke showing. The geraniums have adjusted to their new homes among the chairs.

Oh what the heck.

Finally, one sweet surprise.  After Dad's funeral last year, I threw several of the dying Easter lilies into the back yard to plant and then I couldn't face them for a while.  I didn't even put in a garden last summer.  But last fall, I found a couple of the old dried out lilies, and put a few of the bulbs around the bird bath, just in case they might return to life.  My friend Leslie-from-junior-high said they might not bloom the first year, if they made it at all.

But there they are, in a good lesson in the circle of life.  A year and a half after their mournful duty at Dad's funeral they are about to show their glorious blooms in the joyous garden he loved so much and then handed down to my sister and me.

Perhaps that is why we all plant gardens in California.  The summer is warm and sweet.  The nights are cool. And our gardens remind us all that life goes on after the storms of winter have passed away.

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