A gorgeous plant, but oh so invasive. Once you’ve got it, good luck getting rid. On the plus side, the butterflies love the flowers (you can see one in this shot) and the young shoots that come up in the spring can be dug and used like rhubarb.
Local filmmaker Stacey Dodge visited my rooftop garden in the spring to shoot a short for the Toronto Urban Film Festival. Fast forward several months and her film (edited by Beau Dickson) was selected and will be showing this Sunday, September 8 on monitors in the Toronto Subway System. The short will be in rotation throughout the day so don’t forget to look up if you happen to ride the subway this weekend!
See the film online here.
Look who showed up looking for lunch while I was out on the roof taking photos yesterday afternoon. He had absolutely no fear whatsoever. I could have reached out and touched him. I yelled and stomped around and he just looked at me like I was holding out a bag of peanuts.
He ain’t care. He is nothing if not the most laid back squirrel there ever was.
I’m so confused. Is he the one who’s been pulverizing my tomatoes? I thought it might be him because my neighbor mentioned seeing him a few times. But then the raccoons started coming around every night and I was sure the decimated bits of scattered tomato was their handiwork. They have a way with just ripping plants to shreds. But that’s the thing. The culprit has been ripping the tomatoes to shreds but the plants themselves have been left intact. Raccoons tend to take out everything in their path, fruit, plants, the lot. And this tomato stealer is a tricksy one. This guy or gal only goes for ripe tomatoes. Squirrels are never that discerning. They tend to just sample everything and leave what doesn’t suit them.
I’m starting to think that my next role as a gardener should be CSI: Garden. I need to spend the winter getting studied up on your scatology, and your bite mark identification. I need to put myself together one of those fancy C.S.I gadget cases, complete with crime scene markers, DNA kits, assorted envelopes, those cotton swabs tucked into plastic cases that close jobbies, and a vat of sticky lip venom puffing gloss. Or personal lip collagen injection kit.
Or maybe I just like a good mystery and I’m over thinking it. Maybe it doesn’t matter who’s eating the tomatoes. What matters is that they are eating most of each fruit they take rather then taking one bite and leaving the rest.
And by the looks of things, I’d say they are enjoying it.
I found an entire tree laying flat across the street garden this morning. Just, you know, laying there. How it got there or why is beyond me.
Okay. Here’s the thing: The garden’s a mess. I have barely touched it since the last big incident. I just haven’t had it in me. Call in the garden police. Seriously, the way I have been neglecting that garden makes me feel like a total fraud. And yet whether I garden or don’t garden the weirdness continues. All sorts of interesting Happenings have occurred since the last incident. Things I haven’t bother to write about here because that would mean crawling out of the nice soft and fuzzy blanket of denial I’ve been slowly sinking into as a way to put all of this nonsense out of my mind.
Garden? What garden? I walk by the remains of each new occurrence shaking my head in disbelief and then turn away to look in the other direction and pretend the whole thing isn’t even there. I did deal with the used potting soil someone threw on top of the plants. The plume poppies that were trampled down to make a path to the back wall. And the dead squirrel someone tossed from off the road. At least I did that much.
Sometimes I think about the garden late at night while laying in bed waiting to fall asleep. I make plans to pull out the weeds, rebuild the broken fence, and throw out the slowly accumulating collection of big beer cans and giant Freezie wrappers. But then I wake up in the morning and focus my attention on the roof garden, my sanctuary in the sky that only the raccoons and squirrels can have their way with. They drive me nuts but at least their behaviour follows some kind of logic.
But this on the other hand is just ridiculous. Is this some kind of joke? Performance art? We looked up and down the street a block but couldn’t see a single ripped out sidewalk tree. Which means someone actually dragged this one from a fair distance and then heaved it onto the iris bed. When I try to imagine the rational behind this act the only thing that comes to mind is, “Back to the source.”
It’s as if the person thought, “Man, I sure am getting tired of hauling this small tree down the street. I wonder where I can ditch it? How about with this other plant matter?”
I suppose it only stands to reason. Like belongs with like. Or something like that.
I think it’s about time the street garden had it’s own internet website. That and a web cam. And then once it’s making some money it can pay for all the wasted therapy sessions I’ve had to put towards working out its issues.
Above image is the July entry from the 2008 You Grow Girl Calendar
I LOVE tomatoes. If I had to give up growing all other crops and choose just one I would probably choose tomatoes although basil would follow as a close second. Who can imagine tomatoes without basil?
Don’t make me choose.
Tomatoes aren’t the easiest food plant to grow but they are the most rewarding. No homegrown vegetable tastes, looks, and feels more radically different to its grocery store counterpart. That watery, anemic thing isn’t a tomato, it’s an impostor, and a bad one at that.
I love the challenge in growing tomatoes. The learning about this single crop type is endless. Every variety is different from the 6 feet (plus plus) tall indeterminates to teeny little potted plants. The leaves and shapes are different, their wants and needs are varied, and their disease and pest resistance can shift radically from plant to plant. And then there’s the weather. What thrives and grows abundantly one year can melt into a pile the next. Finding more water during a drought is hard enough, but how exactly do you take it away during a flood year? My region has already far surpassed all the records for summer rainfall and the summer isn’t even over yet. If you’ve ever experienced frustration and loss as a tomato gardener do not give up. Who knows what next year will bring? That next variety might be the one that kicks ass in your growing conditions. The one thing a gardener can never control or really predict is the weather. How amazing would it be if we could? But then I wonder how interesting gardening would be if we knew exactly what was going to happen and what to do about it beforehand.
A clump of ‘Purple Calabash’ tomatoes harvested just yesterday!
A gardener could focus their entire life on just the tomato and still live a very full and varied experience. I constantly long for the space to toss in 100 varieties or more in one year and just immerse myself in it completely. Still, I try with my little roof garden and community plot, slowly inching my way through the lists of inspiring varieties one plant at a time. I had to cut back this year to give my soil a break. It’s a bummer but has made me all that much more appreciative of the plants I do have, most especially the few that have pushed on through the excess rain to bring me my first sweet, ripe lovelies.
Tomatoes are beginning to ripen in both of my food gardens which means I am indulging in all of my favourite tomato recipes. I prefer to make tomatoes the star of the show rather than hiding them in among other overpowering ingredients so as soon as the first tomatoes were ready I dove straight into the two dishes I crave most during the off months of the year: Roasted Tomato Soup and Fried Egg Sandwich. (I cooked and ate one for lunch midway through writing this post!) The egg sandwich is as simple as frying two eggs any way you like them with a light spread of mayo and a couple of leaves of fresh basil. Add a little salt to taste. My newest love is Caprese Salad. I took up cheese making last year just so I could have really fresh delicious cheese with it. When the plants really start producing I’ll be making Roasted Tomato Sauce and Blackened Ranchero Salsa and then canning for winter usage. Yum.
Amazing that this is where it all begins. This is the ‘Purple Calabash’ shortly after germinating.
This post is a part of Away to Garden and Dinner Tonight’s Tomato Week Fest 2008.