I have finished planting my garden. This includes staking up my tomatoes, an initial hilling of potatoes, thinning of the okra and kale, plus some rudimentary efforts at controlling the squash borer. I have also considered construction of a scarecrow to frighten the crap out of the rabbits who are eating the green beans down to the nub. (I wonder where that word originated.) However, I can’t bring myself to do that because I like rabbits bouncing around the yard (The dog absolutely loves them) and besides, I’m not sure I want to go to all the trouble of making Susie can green beans.
I have 19 tomato plants and I’m considering a few more because I believe you can never have too many tomatoes. And finally, I have written my annual gardening column which follows:
I’d like to start this week by saying I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is that I have finished planting my vegetable garden. Among other things, it includes my usual lineup of tomatoes, peppers, squash and potatoes , both the sweet kind as well as the Russet variety. In an effort to move away from being an overweight meat and potatoes kind of guy, I also added a variety of trendy, cosmopolitan vegetables and herbs, the kind of things you’ll find in the organic produce section at Whole Foods or in any food magazine that doesn’t have Paula Deem on the cover. I have been busy the past few weeks seeking out recipes specifying kale, okra, and roasted garlic, the same stuff I have in the metrosexual section of my garden. (Note 1)
I also planted green beans this year although I normally do not, reasoning that it’s much cheaper and easier to just buy the canned version. That is not so much true anymore and I have to admit, the taste of fresh green beans is so much better. There is another bonus, as well. Planting green beans from seed gives me the best chance to watch what I can only describe as a miracle in progress as the seed germinates. I am a bit impatient with the process though. Folks always say that a watched pot never boils and in the same vein, a just planted seed seems like it will never sprout and emerge from the ground. I can’t tell you what a thrill it is when a green bean seed evolves from seed to plant and tentatively pokes its head through the dirt.
I also have a lot of tomatoes but picking which varieties to grow is becoming more complex every year. There are two or three dozen varieties out there and I’d like to try them all but that’s just not practical. I have room in the garden for 3 or 4 different types but for a person like me who has difficulty deciding what to have for dinner, it is an almost impossible task to pick which kind to grow. However, after much deliberation I settled on these:
1. Cherry tomatoes. – I’m not a big fan of these. I dislike the way the explode when you bite into them but still, choosing them was a no brainer decision. Susie loves these things so she told me to plant them.
2. Portuguese Roma. – I always include a Roma variety since we usually can tomatoes for winter eating and also to make sauce for cooking. Any Roma is good but I chose this one because it seems to have more romance in its name than, say, the Bulgarian variety. Also, Ferdinand Magellan, along with my cousin, Jack, was my fifth grade hero.
3. Beefsteak. – I love tomatoes right out of the garden (As long as they’re not the Cherry kind); the big juicy ones that get tomato seeds in my beard when I bite into them. I have also grown the Big Boy and the Early Girl strains for this reason but by and large, I prefer a tomato with a neutral gender.
4. Amish Paste tomato. – This was strictly a nostalgia driven choice. When I was a teenager, I worked as a general laborer at the Miller funeral home in Loogootee, Indiana ; mowing grass, washing the hearse and serving on door duty during viewing hours, that kind of stuff. This led to helping out with funerals in the Amish community. While these were sad occasions, I was still glad because we were usually invited to eat after the services and the food that the Amish folks served was so good that even today, the mere mention of Amish noodles will set my mouth to watering.
And that’s my good news. The bad news is…., is…., well there really isn’t any bad news. The closest thing to bad news that I can come up with is that I still haven’t come up with a way to stop the garden pests from destroying my summer squash. For the past few years, I was under the impression that it was cutworms that were causing all the damage but now I’m not so sure; that’s why I’m calling these little critters pests instead of cutworms. I’ve been doing some internet research and I have come to believe it’s the notorious squash borer who is causing the problem. This is not good because I have this mental picture of the squash borer resembling the obnoxious scallywag that shows up every winter on TV, moving his relatives into a person’s lungs during cold season; the same guy who’s scared to death of Mucinex DM. My wife, Susie, hates that commercial. Due to some forgotten childhood trauma, she cannot tolerate mention of the word mucous or any of its gross derivatives that the more uncouth part of our populace might use. I did not find this out until just after the Marriage Vows were pronounced. On our wedding day, for God’s sake, she forbid me to ever again use the words ‘phlegm’ and ‘snot’ because it offended her sensitivities.
You may think it’s funny but it’ snot.
Note 1: Metrosexual: Another service on my part to broaden the vocabulary of my already suave and debonair readers. I should note that I have no desire to be considered a metrosexual. I’m too old. However, were I a younger person, who knows…….
Metrosexual, as lifted from Wikipedia and defined by Mark Simpson, an English journalist, writer, and broadcaster specialising in popular culture, media, and masculinity, is as follows:
The typical metrosexual is a young man with money to spend, living in or within easy reach of a metropolis — because that’s where all the best shops, clubs, gyms and hairdressers are. He might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial.
For some time now, old-fashioned (re)productive, repressed, unmoisturized heterosexuality has been given the pink slip by consumer capitalism. The stoic, self-denying, modest straight male didn’t shop enough (his role was to earn money for his wife to spend), and so he had to be replaced by a new kind of man, one less certain of his identity and much more interested in his image – that’s to say, one who was much more interested in being looked at (because that’s the only way you can be certain you actually exist). A man, in other words, who is an advertiser’s walking wet dream.”[19