Great Expectations

  (Mooresville, Indiana)
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Confessions of a Tomato Killer

It is never my intention to kill my sprouting tomatoes.  It just always works out that way.

I had my first garden years ago - no, make that a lifetime ago.  We had just started our family and I had discovered a domestic side of myself that I didn't know existed.  My husband helped fashion a raised garden bed using old railroad ties.  (Why we didn't die from toxins from those, I'll never know!)  We lived in a city in Illinois at the time where the earth is rich and back and fertile.  Just dropping a seed on the ground was all you needed to do.  It grow was practically effortless to have a successful garden.  I thought I was brilliant but I know now that I was the beneficiary of great natural conditions and my skill had absolutely no part of that early success. 

Our next house in Illinois didn't have the best spot for vegetables but my roses were fabulous.  Again, there was more luck involved than anything else.  We moved to Indiana where we have, well, I don't know what the soil is made of here but it isn't anything that comes close to being black.  It's a combination of sand, clay, clay and sand with some rocks sprinkled in just to make it more fun to try and dig up and then a touch more clay.  Our first house here had no place for a garden so when we moved to the country we put in a big plot and will be extending it another 15 feet this summer. 

Because I am so "earthy" now, I decided last year I needed to learn how to plant my own seeds rather than rely on the greenhouse.  I've tried before and every single time the cats managed to get in and eat the tops off or they tried to use the flat with the dirt and seeds as a kind of porta-potty.  I know they appreciated my thoughfulness at having such cute little dividers for their convenience but the end result has been a disaster and so off I'd go to pick up flats of whatever I needed.

Last year was better.  I think I approached the situation with a lot more confidence.  I acted like I didn't care if the seeds grew or not but secretly, I was very anxious about it.  My seeds sprouted and grew to a decent size. I set them outside to harden off wherein half, shocked by my kicking them out of the house, proceeded to keel over and die.  The other half, with the exception of about half a dozen, proceeded to die at the sight of direct sunlight when I planted them in the garden.

I'm not sure what I did but 2 dozen tomatoes and a few other unwitting vegetable seedlings were done in by my lack of skill last year.  I'm trying again though.  I've read all the how-to's again - the many variations on achieving success so we'll just have to wait and see.

This time, I'm really not going to let the seedlings know I care if they live.  I'm not going to go in and look at them several times a day either.  (Part of this new resolve is because I'm not sure what I'm expectng them to be doing when I check on them so it is rather pointless.)  I'm adopting this approach at the advice of a guy I work with has wonderful success with starting his own seeds.  He says he commands the seeds to grow and he never talks nicely to them.  I'm going to try that next year if I fail again... Meanwhile, the greenhouse down the road sincerely appreciates my failed efforts.

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