One one side of the yard, plants continue to die. We still have two eggplants growing, a couple of cucumbers hanging on for dear life, and the possibility of something resembling a melon, but the squash plants continue to bear nothing, and there are big, open expanses of dirt.
On the other side of the yard, it’s like a completely different garden. Tangled branches. Baby peppers popping out all over the place. A bevy of green tomatoes.
I had noticed that one of the grape tomato plants had become a veritable thicket, but hadn’t gotten close enough to figure out what was going on until late this week. I went out to check on the garden in the morning before work. The grass needed to be cut, so the long, dew-wet blades soaked the cuffs of my dress pants as I wandered around in the pre-dawn light.
I stopped in front of the thicket and peered in. Weird, I thought. Those green tomatoes on the grape tomato plant are completely the wrong shape. Also, they’re kind of big.
Ahem. That, my friends of the Internet, would be because they were not grape tomatoes. They were baby Big Beef tomatoes, hanging off branches that had become completely intertwined with the grape tomato plant next to it. Apparently, growth happens when the Inadvertent Gardener isn’t paying attention.
The branch in the worst shape was bent at a 90-degree angle, its stem stressed but, at the moment, unbroken. The dilemma presented itself: I am chronically late for work, but it was clear that some emergency staking needed to happen. I thought about leaving the task for Steve, who was still asleep. I considered just waiting until after work, so I would have the slightest chance of getting there on time.
Guilt overcame me. What if the stressed stem gave up before someone attended to it? I went inside for some more of our classy support tools: the recycled plastic grocery store bag.
It took a few minutes of careful unwinding to get the viney stems apart. A few leaves fell to the ground, casualties of the operation. But by the end of my emergency work, the most troubled branches had the necessary support, and now there was much more light and air where that thicket had once been. It’s a good thing, too, because some of the leaves were showing signs of disease or other trouble, probably because it’s been so wet and they’ve been subject to poor airflow. Or maybe it’s just because I wasn’t giving the proper proportion of attention.
I felt good about the work, and the fact that part of the garden continues to grow so well, even through the cool, rainy weather we’ve had lately. When I went inside to blow dry my hair, I aimed my hair dryer at my pants cuffs for a minute, then decided a little dew never hurt anyone’s clothing and just left the cuffs to dry on their own.
On my way inside, though, I passed a small, bright red leaf that had fallen from a tree. It lay in the grass like a warning flag.