Saturday, July 28, 2012
This entry addresses the incredulity of summer heat in late July, how the tomato leaves crisp and curl into themselves to escape the sun's afternoon glare. The veins on the backside of each leaf standing out brown and hard, a rigid backbone.
I had a garden once. No, before then. In the days where the summer months stretched like a lifetime and the sunflowers grew above even my mother's head. In the fall, I would be asked to write, What I Did Over Summer Vacation, and I would write, I picked tomatoes every day. I picked them from the vine, and then I picked them where they'd fallen to the ground. My mother boiled and skinned and mashed them, spooning them over limp, pale spaghetti noodles for dinner. The garden tomatoes multiplied like rabbits. They spilled like waterfalls from emaciated parent plants. They grew mercilessly. I could hear them at night through my window, being birthed. I could hear the older fruits plopping to the ground, swollen and disappointed with their own weight, splitting open on the packed ground beneath them. I picked until I stank with the smell of rotten tomatoes. The air in the house weighed down with the smell of boiled tomatoes. The kitchen counter crowded with cloudy jars of skinless red fruit.
This entry concludes with an appeal to water your tomatoes in the morning, not at night, so as to avoid mildewed plants. Pick the fruit regularly. In addition, keep the soil beneath your plants free of leaf debris and fallen fruit, which may encourage disease. Perhaps you have a young daughter who could be instructed in the care of tomatoes, in the late summer, in your Arkansas garden.