Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Pickin' and Grinnin'

Our garden is growing like crazy, and I’m really surprised given the summer we’ve had. We might as well be living on the Equator. We’ve had something like forty days above 90 degrees. We’ve hit 100 on several days, and for part of last week our heat index hit 120 degrees. Oh, and it has rained so little that I don’t even watch the weather forecast anymore. I just make plans and assume it’s going to be sunny, dry and armpit soaked hot. A lady picked a chair next to me at the Chamber of Commerce breakfast the other morning and joked that she would sit next to me since I smelled good. I told her to get a good whiff while the getting’ was good ‘cause in an hour or two it wouldn’t be pretty. And I was serious. It’s been so hot so long, we’ve all gotten a bit used to being sweaty and smelly. A bit. Not completely. This means you tall man at the grocery store.

Thanks to a lot of watering, our garden has managed to survive, even though our grass died a merciful death weeks ago. Our next water bill will likely eat up one semester of Teen Angel’s college fund, but girlfriend will just have to go without textbooks that first year as the Hula-gen’s refuse to live without homegrown tomatoes. In fact, we live for homegrown tomatoes. We talk longingly about them in the winter and pour over seed catalogs during the cold months. Heck, the Stark Brothers catalog is our favorite bathroom reading material. Aside from Reader’s Digest.

Come spring we plant several varieties of tomatoes and count the days until the first ones ripen. Then our summer is spent building meals around them. We’re the Gump’s of the tomato world. We got your chopped tomatoes, your fried tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, tomato salad, tomato soup, tomato salsa and on and on and on. We eat many meals that are comprised solely of tomatoes and corn on the cob and Lordy, we do love the BLT’s. All that sodium in the bacon makes Mama J.’s feet swell though, so we have to limit those somewhat.

When it first became obvious the hot dry spell was here to stay, we were worried the garden would die a premature death, but it’s doing fine. Really fine. From far away, it looks pretty good.

But up close, you can see how tall everything is. I should have put Hubby next to these plants for perspective. He’s 6’4”, and the plants are way above his head.
The thing you can’t really tell from these pictures is that most of these plants outgrew their stakes a long time ago, bent over and have grown almost all the way back to the ground. Hubby got out a ladder and tape measure the other day and estimated one plant to be about thirteen and a half feet long. Other than a really good dose of nitrogen when he first planted the garden, he hasn’t used any chemicals on them. I think they actually benefited from the shade that takes over the garden in the afternoon, giving the plants a break from the blazing heat. The end result is that tomatoes are ripe for the pickin’ every day.

They hide underneath leaves.

And burst out of the tops of the plants. My favorites are the cherry and grape tomatoes.

Hubby likes the big ones. Such a man thing.

Tomatoes aren’t the only thing we’re pickin’ either. Our pepper plants are five feet tall this year.
The cucumbers have taken over the windmill.

And the cantaloupe plants just sprouted five more melons. Yee haw!

Our watermelons played out after just two melons. Sniff. But the blackberry, blueberry and raspberry bushes we planted are growing nicely and should put forth some fruit next year, along with the new grapevines.

It may be hotter than Guam in western Kentucky, but the bounty from our little vegetable patch is keeping us happier than pigs in sunshine. The Hula-gen’s and tomatoes go together like…well, like peas and carrots.


oreneta said...

You're going to have to read that Kinsolver book about it, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral.

Are you going to be doing some canning?

Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy said...

Hi Hula, you inspired me this morning ... I featured you on my blog this morning with a link to the Guy Clark song "Home Grown Tomatoes", if you want to check it out.

Have a great weekend!