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As I write this, I wonder; was Godzilla a girl?

Anyway, I'm starting to harvest a few tomatoes now. Below the cryptic Kos devil handprint you go, to read about my adventures in Tomatoland. You do understand they are the fruit of the devil, no?

First, you get the picture; otherwise you'll all just ignore everything I write and race down to get the picture. I know you people only too well.

Cherokee Purple Tomato

This baby weighed in at 20 ounces and was perfectly ripe, even getting a little bruised on the bottom under her own weight, as she sat on my table this afternoon, before I cut a slice and tasted her (I felt like I was engaging in major surgery). I don't know for sure whether the Cherokee people had anything to do with working with this tomato person, but their name being attached to her is indeed an honor, as she is a lovely and strong tomato plant who is making me some beautiful fruit.

Grown in weather over 100 every day (and as high as 110) over the course of June and very late May, under shadecloth, this tomato turned out as sweet as you might hope, though without quite the deep winy taste of a Purple Calabash; another deeply lobed tomato variety with much of the same sort of coloration upon ripening.

However, we shall not judge by this specimen, magnificent though she may be. One tomato doth not a summer make.

I have one patch, the largest; with close to a dozen tomato plants, and some are under the shadecloth, some aren't. The shadecloth setup was something I arranged for an earlier vegetable setup. I put it back up this year without reworking it, because (a) I'm lazy, or (b) I like to change things around and see what happens, or (c) both.

I have tried to water the ones not under the shadecloth more, but I think it would be better to have everybody under the shadecloth, with this kind of weather.

At least in that spot. It is shaded from the east until late morning, and shaded from the west by evening, but even with lots of mulch and watering, the heat just gets too much for the ones not under the shadecloth. They start to wither. They whimper. They wilt sporadically in patches. There could be disease action here but I don't see any patterns stronger than "under the shadecloth, in this weather, you do better."

The San Marzanos are under and not under the shadecloth, I planted a lot of them. And also still in pots (I kept extras in case I wanted to do any replacements). Some of the San Marzanos in the ground are doing worse than the ones in pots. The ones in pots are trying to set fruit, not too successfully. This is all data, but not enough. Enough to be suggestive, though. Enough to be interesting.

The San Marzanos in the ground, even under the shadecloth, are giving me ripe fruit at this time, but they are still a little hammered, far as plum tomatoes go. But overall they're looking fairly strong. But their fruit fall some as they ripen.

I also have a different patch, with four Box Car Willies, with also a Cherokee Purple and a Russian Purple, in a corner that gets morning sun and then shade after midday. They look good, except for the Russian Purple. I have tried them before; they get all etiolated looking and sick. I don't think they like it here. I won't try them again. But they might do really well in a different climate.

The Box Car Willies aren't producing, probably too hot for them to set fruit (but why them and not the others? I planted everybody at the same time). But their foliage is great in this spot, and I hope for them to be producing later this summer.

Tomatoes are pollinated by both wind and insects, and I get both here. My squash has produced quite a bit, and they won't do jack without pollinators. I still have honey bees, even after the city came around and took out the honey bee hive in the abandoned house across the street, a few years back. Those bees lived there for years before that, and likely swarmed and set up elsewhere. Yay bees! They used to show up in my yard in early spring every year for awhile, and I'd wonder; where on earth are all of you people coming from, visiting my birdbath in such droves?

I'm glad I could be here for them, I'm glad I had enough sense not to turn them in to the Animal Police. And I'm sorry they got killed, because that house is still empty, and those were very friendly bees; we had a good acquaintance, what with them pollinating my garden and my giving them places with water to drink. But I'm glad they had some time to work things out, and find other places to be, because I still get bees in my garden, though not as many anymore.

But I've heard from an environmentalist writer correspondent, who has lots of other environmentalists correspondents, that people are seeing fewer insects than usual. That is scary. I am having that experience here, but I figure it's the drought. I'm happy to be running this little oasis here, but it's bad. I have my Tithonia (Mexican sunflowers) all up and blooming; normally they would attract lots of butterflies and hummingbirds; I think I've seen one of each this year, and I hang around here a lot, and watch.

At the same time, I have a volunteer catnip plant (I'm sure I never planted catnip) that's hung in for several years and suddenly burst into bloom this one, and attracted many small pollinators, including some very small butterflies.

The ants are doing all right, both the harvesters who feed my yard horned lizard (I saw him again this year, I wish I had more, I had babies once, that was incredible), and all the others ants, including the tinies who run around my house and climb on me, for me to gently take them up between two fingers and cast them away. They're small, they will land well, as will the little spiders who land on me, when I blow them away.

Still, no rain, no rain. This ain't sustainable. I think this is my last garden here, at least of this sort. Might be time to bail soon, but how to get far away enough from this upcoming climate disaster?

I'm talking about the drought. I read FishOutOfWater, I read quite a few people, and conservative gambler that I am, I'm betting on the best odds; i.e.; it's likely a good idea to get the hell out of Dodge, soon as possible. There are all sorts of delusional fools running around this part of the world laughing at sober and nonpartisan scientists. These people are scared, I understand that. But they also are framing themselves as enemies of ours (and you know who you are).

It's lovely down here. I love the desert, always have.

But it was easier to love it when things weren't going into critical mass, to use a nuclear metaphor that I consider appropriate.

The desert will always be. The desert is moving. I would like to follow the desert, at this point, I think.

Meanwhile, I'm good with my last tomato crop down here, with the work I've put into it, the observations I'm making. It's something. It's not much, but it's something. It's something I can take somewhere.

Best to you all,


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for the people (28+ / 0-)

    human and non-human. And even non-animal.

    Desert Willow and Broom

    (Desert Willow and broom)

    No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

    by Miep on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 07:39:46 PM PDT

    •  Not to jump the tip jar (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Miep, Joieau, Mr Robert

      and I sense Miep is cool with it, but that is a great photo.

      I plan to have a backyard like that again one day, away from concrete and master-planned eyesores.

      Bitchin tomato, momma! ;-)

      "Space Available" is the largest retail chain in the nation.

      by Free Jazz at High Noon on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:16:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, sweetie (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mrsgoo, flowerfarmer, Mr Robert

        Technically tip jar jumping was posting comments prior to manual tip jar posting. Tip jar barnacling is posting a comment to the tip jar, in order to queue jump.

        This isn't very important on diaries that don't get much attention, and also it's not really a problem if you aren't being mean or otherwise trolling the diary, imho. In fact, there are times when it is really appropriate to queue jump thusly. It's a matter of tact, overall.

        I find that the trick to taking good photos is to take a lot of them randomly, in all moods and at all times of days, and to have a large memory card in your camera so you don't feel stressed about image management. Then work with them at whim.

        I liked that one, too. It was one out of about a hundred that I otherwise erased.

        No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

        by Miep on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:53:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I bought a semi-cheapo --but very portable-- (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mrsgoo, Miep, Mr Robert

          camera a while back and have started doing just this:

          I find that the trick to taking good photos is to take a lot of them randomly, in all moods and at all times of days, and to have a large memory card in your camera so you don't feel stressed about image management. Then work with them at whim.

          with a surprising amount of satisfaction. This camera is always with me. Good advice!

          "Space Available" is the largest retail chain in the nation.

          by Free Jazz at High Noon on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:17:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That is an awesome photo! /nt (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DawnN, Miep, Mr Robert

        Wolverines and Badgers and Buckeyes - Oh My! Be Afraid Kochroaches. Be very afraid.

        by mrsgoo on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:54:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  A race against time! (6+ / 0-)

    "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

    by KateCrashes on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 07:48:58 PM PDT

    •  no, those tomatoes look all wrong (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Those are deeply subdued tomatoes. I have wild ones. Thanks anyway.

      We'll be in touch.

      No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

      by Miep on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:25:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In the above clip there is a helicopter crashing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      When I saw it, I thought that it looked like a real crash, and wondered if they borrowed footage from somewhere, due to the low budget of the film.

      Acorrding to Wiki, the helicopter was supposed to land, but the tail rotor struck the ground, it went out of control, crashed and burst into flames.

      The pilot escaped without serious injury.

      They left it in the movie!

      "...Demoralization caused by vast unemployment is our greatest extravagance. Morally, it is the greatest menace to our social order." FDR

      by wrights on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 06:30:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Little known fact (6+ / 0-)

    That penny is actually 10 feet across.

    You better check yourself chunky.

    by MeMeMeMeMe on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 07:59:22 PM PDT

  •  Put Some Pants On That Thing (6+ / 0-)

    It's all so clear to me now. I'm the keeper of the cheese. And you're the lemon merchant. Get it? And he knows it.

    by bernardpliers on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:04:31 PM PDT

    •  I am now totally officially (5+ / 0-)

      in love with you.

      Don't worry, it'll pass. I'm not a cheap date...but there are ways to get to me!

      Such as, getting me laughing! Love this!

      Always loved this piece.

      Oh, Frank; why did you have to die so early?

      I heard he was living in the condo complex by the beach on Ocean Park Boulevard when my stepfather was dying there, and I was tending him.

      I heard he'd been seen in the gym.

      Prostrate cancer.

      I never saw Frank in person.

      Another woman came and visited the bookstore I ran here with my old business partner.

      She was a picker, she roamed around hassling people to sell her stuff that she could sell.

      She said she'd met Frank, that he was such a nice man.

      Frank is like a cloud person for me. I took a lot of acid when I was a teenager.

      Frank was always there then.

      I hear he never took any drugs.

      He changed me. I was given him by people who maybe were not in my best interest.

      But Frank was good. There was never anything about Frank that was bad. Sure, he made some trashy musical stuff...I'm sure he was feeling very bitter and angry, and how terrible that he died so young.

      But Frank was good. Frank changed me. Frank made me.

      Madison, that was her name, the woman who showed up at the book store and said she knew Frank, and what a good, kind person he was.

      I believe all of this.

      In my personal religion; Frank is an angel.

      A kind of a saint.

      We needs us more Franks.

      No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

      by Miep on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:22:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  We have a few blooms on our midwest (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep, JayinPortland, mrsgoo, flowerfarmer

    tomato plants. It has been cold and rainy.

    We have a few Cherokee Purple plants and some Black Krems (our two favorites) plus some cherry and roma tomatos.

    At this rate we won't get fruit until August.

    Enjoy your bounty!

    •  Maybe you need Russian Purples? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JayinPortland, mrsgoo, badscience

      I often here don't get fruit until fall. It gets too hot.

      No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

      by Miep on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:40:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I've been having a running argument with my (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Miep, badscience, Mr Robert

        hubbies Republican BFF. He swears that tomatoes can't have too much sun and heat. I swear they can. Our patch is south facing and often, until the plants get to be leafing out - the first tomatoes are sun burnt. So far, nothing like your 20oz beauty here in the CA Delta. It's been a cool and rainy spring. Hell, .73 inch of rain  and in the 70's on Tuesday. Today and for the next week 100+! sheesh. The plants are looking good. Just need some edible 'maters!!

        Wolverines and Badgers and Buckeyes - Oh My! Be Afraid Kochroaches. Be very afraid.

        by mrsgoo on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 12:00:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Different varieties (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert, mrsgoo

          Some put their fruit up high and out of the shade of the leaves, those are good for cooler climates. The ones that hide their fruit do better in hotter climates. And shadecloth is great for hotter climates. Also we grow tomatoes under trees here sometimes (in large containers) and they do fine. Lots of variables here.

          It is true though that hot weather and sun ripens fruit the best. I regularly lose a lot of nice tomatoes in the fall, because they start setting fruit after it cools off and then it gets too cold for them to ripen well.

          I'm interested in varieties and techniques that help them set fruit when it is hotter. Supposed to fail above the low 90's. I seem to have something else happening here, but I haven't been keeping close track. The other possibility is it all ground to a halt when it was so hot, because the plants can't photosynthesize over the very low 100's. Anyway, I'm starting to get some ripe fruit now, but they've had a hard time, have taken a lot of water even in the shade. Nothing doing as well as this variety, though. Worth passing on to others, I thought.

          No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

          by Miep on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 01:01:09 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  That's a fine tomato ya got there. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep, JayinPortland

    I have, in front of me, a green two inch long paste tomato from a plant I pulled up today because it was overrun with disease. Had to go. The others so far are manageable. A pity, though, since this one had fairly far along fruit.

    Ah well...summer's still young.

    •  You have a lot of trouble with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      tomatoes up there. Down here, forget about potatoes.

      My mom lives in Washington State and mourns her lack of good tomatoes.

      You might try growing them in large containers. I could try that with potatoes down here, but I'd have to make sure the water wasn't alkaline, or anywhere near close.

      It's complicated. One needs to learn lots of detail.

      Have you tried growing potatoes? That might work there.

      Thanks for commenting.


      No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

      by Miep on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:53:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hello, Miep... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep, mrsgoo

    It's good to find a new post of yours in my 'stream' when I come home.


    That 'bee removal' thing is disturbing, btw.

  •  Miep, I have some things started for you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Miep, mrsgoo, Mr Robert

    that should be ready to ship by fall, I hope.  I haven't checked on their rooting lately, I've been busy with other things, but I think they'll be fine.  I also have some things that will be blooming soon that I'm collecting seed from when the time is right that you might be interested in.

    Your Cherokee Purple tomato is beautiful.  I hope she was as tasty as she looks...

    "The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." Ernest Hemingway

    by Got a Grip on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 08:59:04 PM PDT

  •  How to pick tomatos (3+ / 0-)

    Introduction to tomato-picking:

    "Tu vida es ahora" ~graffiti in Madrid's Puerta del Sol, May, 2011.

    by ActivistGuy on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 09:20:52 PM PDT

  •  Lots of bugs and good weather here in NYC (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    flowerfarmer, Miep, Mr Robert

    I have been really disappointed in my garden the last few years here east.  We had long cold rainy springs followed by instant summer with no spring.  Most of the plants died in the cold wet and the survivors wilted in the heat.

    This has been the best year in a long time.  We had lots of snow so there was deep moisture in the soil.  We've had a very long temperate spring and now that summer is here, the weather is still pretty much perfect, highs in the upper 70s over night lows in the low 60s.

    I hadn't seen an earthworm in 2 years, but this year my garden is crawling with earth worms, pill bugs and centipedes.  At dusk, the air is flashing with thousands of fireflies.  I guess the bugs come and go depending on the weather and depending on whether the morons at city hall spray  the entire city out of terror of west Nile virus.  Thankfully, they haven't done so for a few years.

    I have green tomatoes only so far, but the plants are putting on fruit at a good rate.  I've had two yellow squashes and 2 cukes so far but the plants are very healthy and have lots of blossoms.  String beans seemed to sleep in the soil a long time and I kept making successive plantings assuming the prior plantings have rotted; they didn't and now I've got a confusing mix of Kentucky wonders (climbers) and yellow wax (bush) in the same place.  

    •  Sounds like it could be worse! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      Beans do like warm soil to sprout, and squash and cucumbers will require pollinators, so sometimes city people have problems with that. However, most of the blossoms are also male, at least sometimes it seems.

      I think we are gong to all have to get better at predicting mid-term weather patterns as things continue to change, in order to sort out which years are better bets for growing what.

      We tend to have spring here for most of the winter and then summer starts in late March. In June or July or so either the monsoon starts or summer gets worse. At the moment I'm grateful for days when it only gets to 100 :-)

      No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

      by Miep on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 01:09:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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