Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.
An Essay on Man, Epistle I, 1733
And apparently “hope springs eternal” in the breasts of gardeners.
One of the plants I started back in February from seeds saved in 2007 actually has tiny tomatoes on it. Never mind that the largest fruit is about the size of a small marble. They are definitely tomatoes.
I’m not sure if it’s called “wild” or “wine” but I do remember that the tomatoes were small, juicy, with lots of seeds. Of all the tomato plants I started this year, this one seems to be the most resilient. Although I started about 7 heirloom tomato varieties from seeds, I broke down yesterday and bought an heirloom tomato plant, the Mortgage Lifter. I love the story behind it’s beginning. I planted it today between two other heirloom tomato plants at the WildWest Community Garden, at the risk of overcrowding. I’ve been frustrated by the deterioration in health of the heirloom tomato plants I have planted. I know it’s due to several reasons – weather keeping them indoors way past when they were ready to be transplanted; lack of hardening off, intermittent cold/hot/windy/rainy weather once they were transplanted. Still it’s hard to watch a plant that seemed so healthy seem to be closer to death each time you go to the garden. I’m now wishing I had supplemented the soil at the garden with a potting soil when I planted the tomatoes.
In addition to the arrival of hot and humid days, we are in the midst of an amazing miracle – the return of 13 year cicadas. Growing up in Texas, we collected the exoskeletons of the annual variety of these creatures which we mistakenly called locusts. Apparently many people think that locusts and cicadas are the same insect. I have been researching the question of whether the shed exoskeleton would make good fertilizer – they seem to be every where right now. I’ve found some really interesting facts. Here’s a short time lapse video of a cicada emerging from its exoskeleton. The process takes over an hour; the video is just a couple of minutes. It’s amazing to see the cicada emerge and its wings lengthen. I also learned that there are 15 broods in this species and that cicadas are unique to North America. The brood appearing now in Missouri is a 13 year brood, know as Brood 19 (XIX) or The Great Southern Brood. This brood encompasses all the states enclosed by Georgia, North Carolina, Missouri, Tennessee and Maryland. These insects somehow miraculously appear from their juvenile state to their adult state to breed, lay eggs and die.
Yesterday I planted another pepper plant, some beautiful nasturtiums, some tiny parsley transplants that I started from seed, Kentucky Wonder pole beans and 3 sad looking sugar snap pea plants, as well as a 6 pack of yellow onions that were so crowded that they may not survive the forced separation necessary to actually plant them. I harvested a few more greens and a couple of onions and probably the only broccoli I’ll have before it bolts.
It’s difficult to be patient and maintain optimism while waiting for plants to grow and produce, so I’m thankful for the appearance of the tiny tomatoes on my plants. While I’m waiting, I’ll enjoy the Early Girl tomatoes grown in hot houses by our local farmers and appreciate the fruits appearing on other gardener’s plants, like these from the WildWest Community Garden, that I photographed last week.