Monday, August 14, 2006

What The Tomato Has Taught Me

By Jessica Takach

I am not a gardener: there, I admit it. I try very hard to be one, but I can only witness so much death and mayhem on my porch or on my windowsill. For a time and indeed, even today, fake plants adorn much of my household. But do not judge, for I am trying. I am trying with tomatoes, and they are giving me hope.

I swore off even cacti, after seeing them shrivel and wilt from lack of water, or explode in mold from too much of it. I simply could not find a balance with any plant I tried to care for. I decided that vegetation and I were not friends.

But this summer my mother bought me a tomato plant, perhaps because she is wiser than I am, and knew that this may restore relations between myself and the plant world. I can water that thing as much as I want, and it just wants more. I put a dollop of tomato fertilizer in my watering can (easy!) and then walk to my porch (pretty easy) and water the tomato (not too strenuous). And it is happy and I have picked at least 50 beautiful cherry tomatoes. I feel like a farmer.

I realized I was in deep this past weekend while I was away and actually caught myself worrying about the tomato. Will it wilt to the point of no return in my absence? I vowed to make a 2 liter soda bottle watering contraption (I do not build things, even something as simple as a hole in the bottom of a soda bottle and a hole in the cap). And I did. I rest easier leaving my plant home alone now.

Three other pots now keep the tomato company. Something unknown to me, but cute, with dangling limbs and small flowers, a morning glory which has intertwined itself into the tomato and makes it look like a strange, purple flowering tomato tree, and then a pot of herbs. I also do not cook, so the herbs are a lovely decoration while serving as a silent reminder that I should figure out how to cook something with basil or rosemary.

These plants have made me a better, more responsible person. I can taste the fruits of my labor in my lunch today: a roast turkey sandwich with fresh tomatoes. I have discovered a new side of my life to take pride in, however small. I would recommend a tomato plant to anyone that has given up on their green thumb--the tomato can teach you.

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