Tomato Confidential

Tomatoes. Worse, a tomato challenge. I’d wonder what I was thinking, but I know. I was in Paris and the seeds were still in the package. All things were possible. Then one of my sisters wrote to ask how Charles Dowding grows tomatoes. Dowding gardens in a part of England with a climate very like mine. Good question. I think he only ever grows cool weather crops, lettuce and the like. Uh oh. I realized those tomatoes would be a challenge, indeed.

So. The tomato up front there is one of two purchased from Julien’s kids’ schoolteacher. Healthy, leafy, things, but so far no tomatoes. Maybe too leafy? Behind it are more teacher tomatoes, some other variety. Julien won’t even bring me any of the way cool black heirloom tomatoes from the seed packets. Next week, he says, always next week. I’m getting a little concerned.

After all, how bad could they be? Look at these volunteer tomatoes, crowding out this squash. If they’ll grow, why not those other ones? And what is that squash anyway? Butternut? A pumpkin? I planted two: it could be either one. Zucchini? Maybe there is a point to labeling and keeping a garden diary.

Why didn’t I do a strawberry challenge?

Or a blueberry challenge? I am so desperate for blueberries that I ran out and bought a dozen blueberry bushes. They are all happy and cranking out the fruit.

I could have done cherries. We’ll have a bumper crop this year; the eau de vie awaits them. It looks like I might even get some apples and plums, though it is way too soon for an apple or plum challenge; even I am not that ambitious.

I know. A nettle challenge. You can see my nettle hedge behind my bolting no-bolt arugula and some of the slug food formerly known as squash. I would definitely have won a nettle challenge.

Right now I think about the best thing I can say about my kitchen garden is that it’s a good thing I have a market close by and reliable online shopping. As you can see above, my okra is doing about as well as my tomatoes, maybe a bit worse. Some green thing out there, tatsoi, maybe, shame we didn’t label it, tastes great and hasn’t bolted. The nettles are working their way into quiche and various other things.

The big success is my pro bono project, the meadow. The grass is seeding, on warm days the crickets are chirping and the mice, I won’t say, this being a family blog, but there are a lot of mice out there. All this attracts the birds, who may well have eaten the wildflower seeds, as I have not seen one wildflower out there apart from the Queen Anne’s Lace, which I have sworn to eradicate. But the tomatoes, so far, well, maybe a few. I live in hope.

5 thoughts on “Tomato Confidential

    1. That’s a sad song. I’ll try not to think about it as I marvel at the annual alchemy of dirt and water combining to become cherries, strawberries, tomatoes. Somehow every year it astonishes me. As for Jacques, he has actually started to drag me into the garden, so he can hunt. I guess it’s more fun for him if he has an audience. Or maybe he hasn’t figured out that we’re not actually hunting together.

      Yesterday we visited a friend who had not yet met Jacques. During a long tour of the property it was clear that Jacques was fine with tall grass, etc., and also that he had his own agenda. He wasn’t just tagging along. He was hunting — in the grass, under the woodpiles and all over the house. I believe the friend has mice indoors, as well. Said friend’s respect turned into total respect when Jacques starting digging furiously right near some freshly planted bushes. I was horrified but Thierry said no, good job. The day before he had trapped a mole who lived in that very spot. And what breed of dog did you say that is? If Thierry is impressed by Westies, he should see what a couple of Jack Russells would do.


      1. Perhaps I should have stuck to’ Cherry
        Ripe’ rather than a song of the Commune!
        Jacques seems to have found his metier, with a vengeance….do you think he is trying to teach you his techniques?
        I had a little mongrel terrier years ago in England…he looked like Dennis the Menace’s dog Gnasher. He was in great demand in farms round about for his ratting abilities, including chasing them over the beams in barns. He was a total lothario and the area was populated with Gnasher lookalikes, but they too were valued for their ratting, so perhaps it is just something in the genes.
        As to moles, a French neighbour had a theory that they would pop up at 11.00 am every day so would stand over molehills with his shotgun. Much to my astonishment his kill rate was high!


  1. Well, the nice thing about that song was that they mourned their friends. They didn’t dress up their deaths with blather about how heroic they were. Nope, whatever they were, now they’re just dead. The less nice thing is that the writer seems to want to rob folks of their enjoyment when things return to normal. There’s nothing like our current state of total craziness to help me appreciate normality.

    Jacques was fixed at 6 months old, so there will be no Jacques lookalikes. Well, they’re all over, but it’s not because of him. In France, responsible pet ownership of that kind is seen as a minor scandal, but I’d rather deal with a few raised eyebrows than worry about unwanted and possibly stray offspring. But yeah, the ratting thing wasn’t taught; it’s definitely genetic. I was raised with Springer spaniels. There was no way to keep them out of the water or other than crazed about birds. Jacques can barely stand to get his feet wet, but now that he has worked out the ratting routine there is no stopping him. I may have mentioned that he accompanies the gardien on rat patrol. And if he caught one? Forget those Disney characters: a Paris rat is huge and they’re not at all fussy about their diets.


  2. Jacques could cope…it is all in the technique. The rats my little fiend dealt with were some hefty beasts but he would seize, jerk to break the neck and that was that. Just stay out of rat hurling range while he was at work.
    Neutering for dogs was not in vogue with our country vets at that time… could almost see them shielding their equipment at the mention of it…whereas for horses and cattle they did not turn a hair.
    We have a range of dogs here, but they all must have some common genetic trace for snoozing.


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