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I'm a Tomato
Farmer!
by Joanne Burgess
In the last several months I have become a tomato farmer. Is it really smart to begin something totally new when a person is 80? Probably not. Most people who are totally untutored would at least ask advice about the process. But since it seemed straightforward, I decided simply to “jump in.” Since mine would be “container tomatoes,” I rounded up three medium sized plastic barrels, found a forth one and thought about it. Because not much happens if I just “think about it,” l threw in some potting soil and scattered a few seeds. Faithful watering . . . no results. Committed to the task and with no conscience about the whole thing, I went to Home Depot and bought some “starter plants” that I nestled into the containers where I had already sown the seed. (A little help never hurts.) It should not matter that the seeds were for “beefsteaks” and the plants were for the “romas.” Maybe I will be accused of hybridizing or creating something of value out of a mistake, (such as the accidental arising of penicillin).

Well, SOMETHING began to grow and Alan said “you need steaks.” You can’t fool me . . . (all the time). It was his plea for a good dinner. That aside, I searched the back yard for sticks that would serve as tomato plant stakes. No luck. So back to the Home Depot for stakes. By that time of the summer, all plant stakes were gone. I asked for tomato stakes, and the employee said. “I don’t know; I just work here.” I began to look around as I heard the next customer in line reason with him,  “And how much longer do you think that will be?”

Then I found tree stakes-much too tall and too heavy! But they are now implanted in the containers and I am wondering about growing them since I have no tomatoes! But wait: I have a minuscule yellow flower on one plant. Someone told me to be patient and remember the butterfly/caterpillar thing. And overnight, the tiny yellow flower became a small green tomato. Fascinating!

Now, I am told, I must take out the “suckers.” I have no idea what a tomato sucker is. The only thing I know about suckers is that there is one born every minute. So, it will probably be a big job for me throughout the rest of the summer. Well, if I am lucky, by September I should be selling tomatoes ($1.00 each) by the mailbox.

Joanne Burgess