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Saturday essay: Tomato weekend

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Friday, May 3, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

It is the weekend of The Great Tomato Planting. And it couldn't have come soon enough.

The empty raised beds, newly amended with all manner of rich organic stuff, have been begging since the middle of April to be planted. “After all, weren't the tomatoes in by this time last year?” they asked. “And just look,” they cried, “sunflowers from the seeds buried by the squirrels are sprouting!”

Surely, the beds' indignation was fueled by the fact that their neighbor beds already had been sown with green beans and cucumbers, that the asparagus was up and that the adjacent greenhouse long had been producing lettuce and herbs by the bagful.

“Patience,” I whispered to the beds, if not to myself. “This is not the spring of 2012; it is another animal.”

As it has been proven to be. Daytime highs barely in the 50s and overnight lows below freezing hardly were conducive to planting tomatoes this April; they would have been severely damaged or lost in the folly.

But it's a different story this first weekend of May. The weather pattern has shifted and the temperature outlook is perfect. Oh, there might be an iffy night or two, but the tomatoes are going in — today.

And if everything goes according to plan — an iffy proposition as well — the first of the 500 or so glorious orbs to come should arrive by Independence Day. The good Lord willing and if the groundhogs don't rise, that is.

— Colin McNickle

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