Here They Come

Looks like nothing’s happening as I walk into the room, but a peek down into the milk cartons reveals that the tomato seeds have been busy in their cozy new dirt homes. Hello, tomato plantlets, waving your cotyledons at me! Here Come the TomatoesSpring is here; can bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches be far behind? Well, yes, but not very far behind.

Since I can never believe all the seeds will sprout, I have planted two or three to a carton and when they get a little bigger I will have to thin them. This will make me sad for a bit, but a gardener is always making judgements: thou shalt live; thou shalt die; thou art a weed; thou art worthy of a place at the table. Not to mention interlopers causing trouble. No wonder our creation story starts us out in a garden.

In Pasadena we had a killing frost about once every 15 years, so the tomato plants would keep right on going through the fall. Being lovers of heat and light, they were a sad and scraggly lot come December; and being annuals, they had exhausted themselves by then. It was hard to face that I had to pull them up, but the fruit they bore in winter had sunk to a hothouse-like ghost of its former glory. I gave them an honored place in my tiny compost pile, and in turn they nourished the next year’s crop.

I have also started some basil indoors, and will sow some directly outside. This is a ploy to keep it coming, since I use it as a landscaping plant and therefore let it flower and go to seed. The flower stalks of basil are really lovely and very attractive to bees, so it’s a shame not to let them go; but then it’s a shame not to have any more fresh basil to eat. Planting successive waves of it satisfies both the landscape and the kitchen.

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