Thursday, April 7, 2011

First Tomato Blossom--A Sign

I noticed last night as I was looking over my tomatoes planted in buckets that the first blossom of the season had opened. The delicate pale yellow flower is on one of the larger plants and one of the stronger stems. I have labeled this plant the Alpha Tomato or Alpha Tom or A-Tom. I like that ATomic tie-in, since most of our nuclear testing was conducted not far from my home here in Las Vegas.

I had also noticed that the few plants who were suffering from a lack of iron and showed it with their yellowish leaves have greened up quite a bit since I added an organic iron supplement. It's funny, you know, to look at the plants and actually have feelings for them. Not in some weird trans-personality kind of way, but in a personal "I know my plants" kind of way. I hope for them to do well.

When I notice that they lack something, I try to find out what it is and provide them with it. I noticed that the leaves on some of the plants were showing yellow edges and veins. When I researched this, I decided that the evidence pointed to a lack of iron in the soil. That made sense to me so I found an organic iron supplement at the nursery and applied it according to the directions. I tried not to over supply them, too much of a good thing is still too much. I tried not to under supply them because I didn't want to think it was solved and then not have the results I wanted. Balance. I was seeking balance.

I try to anticipate what they will need and make sure that it is in the soil waiting for them to need it. Tomatoes need calcium in the soil and ours doesn't have it. So, I added some dolomite limestone, powdered, to the soil to provide it. It's supposed to ward off blossom end rot among other things. I made sure that it was mixed in well and was down deep in the bucket so it would be there when the plants got mature enough to reach it.

I know that they will need support later in their productive lives and I have it ready to apply. I have some tomato cages to put into some of the buckets and I have some tall stakes to put into others. My meager budget prohibits me from supplying them all with cages but the stakes were free, ripped from boards recycled from shipping pallets. I actually like the way the stakes look. As the plants grow, I will add layers of string to help hold the stalks and stems vertical.

I'm finding that I really like gardening. I like the challenges, the work, the almost instant gratification of seeing your plants do their thing. And I certainly like the rewards or eating fresh, clean, pesticide/herbicide/life-aside free food, harvested at their peak of ripeness and enjoying them "in the season thereof." I like the life corollaries that accompany gardening. I like the mandatory slowing down of life when I tend to my garden. I find that I look forward to it every day.

I like the spiritual aspect of growing things, too. I love the feeling of connection that I have with the natural world. I am beginning to understand much of what I read in the Scriptures, too, because so much of those teach about life by using agricultural parables, metaphors and similes.  I like the direct correlation between what I get to do for my plants and what God has done for me (and you!). I like that it allows me to focus on what I should be doing in my life with my family, the people that I meet and the blessings that I receive. I like the few minutes each day I get to ponder these things, to feel them and to resolve to do better at honoring them.

Gardening lets me do that. It lets me be a better father, friend, person. It helps me be a better me.

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