Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Blame Martha Stewart

Every year, I dutifully buy two tomato plants: one cherry and one regular. I usually buy a few herbs, some annuals and perennials, and a few bags of potting soil or mulch. Every year, I spend a day weeding and turning over soil and planing the newly purchased plants. Every year, I carefully construct a bamboo tomato cage for aforementioned tomato plants. Every year, I water and feed and tend to the tomatoes.

And every year, I am disappointed. Those bamboo tomato "cages" that I construct? They can't support a single vine, so the stems droop, the fruit falls, and come winter, I am scraping up some long forgotten bit  of yellow tomato off the deck. Why the bamboo stakes? Because Martha said so.

Clearly I need a pedicure before Jon and Kat's wedding
I went through a phase - a rather long one - in which I did just about everything that Ms. Stewart said. I folded the sheets precisely the way she suggested (and still do because it is genius). I washed my windows on a set schedule. I rotated my freezer contents exactly the way Martha would do. Hell, I even wanted a little rubber bracelet with the initials: WWMD? Martha was a goddess as far as I was concerned. This, however, was all before I went back to work. You see, I was a stay-at-home-mom until the girls were in the first grade. I had all the time in the world then. The house was clean, verging on spotless. Meals were both nutritious and prepared by the time that Dave got home from work. His shirts were all ironed and starched in less than two hours after I finished washing them. The girls spent an extremely limited time in front of the television. And, we even ate dinner at the dining room table. Martha suggested doing XYZ . . . I wondered if she might have exponents to go with that formula.

So, the bamboo tomato cages? I was home from work one day with a vicious migraine, the kind that meant I had no business being around other people's children in any kind of capacity. I decided to watch some television in hopes that it would put me to sleep. Martha was airing her annual "how to be a gardener and/or farmer when really you should never attempt this because she is a professional and we can only pretend to be" episode, and she was extolling the virtues of bamboo tomato cages. "The metal hoop ones that you can buy at any home store are so unsightly," she sighed. "In just a few simple steps, you can create something beautiful and functional out of natural materials." Hmmm . . . Martha had never let me down before. Why would she this time?

 My Sigg nearly died from usage this weekend . . . but it's a trooper. 

Fast forward two months (we'll skip over the bamboo splinters and the dripping sweat and the cursing while making the damn cages). My tomatoes were looking gorgeous . . . I mean 4-H purple ribbon winning worthy gorgeous. Only a few more days and then I could make homemade tomato jam. The next day we got a good bit of rain, and the stems proved to be too heavy for the twine surrounding the bamboo. They crashed to the soil, and my tomatoes were ruined.

You would think that I would learn my lesson, but no . . . I tried this two more summers in a row. Who does that? Seriously . . . who? Apparently I forgot how crappy the pretty little cages were that I decided to try it over and over again. But not this year. Not me. I bought two unsightly metal hoop cages for my tomato plants. Personally, I think Martha uses them, too. She just paints them to look like bamboo . . . which doesn't sound like a bad idea, now that I think about it.


PS - I swear I wore shoes and socks while gardening. Dave hurt his ankle, so I mowed, weeded, and planted all by myself. Dirt, it seems, has a way of making it through both my shoes and my socks.

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