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Last throes of summer

It seems shockingly hard to believe, but fall is almost upon us. This summer has been brief, cool and restless, blowing snow across the prairies and beaming hot sun upon our heads all within a week. Poor plants hardly know what to do with themselves, and my co-worker has daylilies that haven’t opened up yet. It’s the end of August, and that speaks for itself.

 In my garden all the flowers are shedding their last blooms, throwing off seeds and fluff and enjoying their last few weeks of light. Here’s some Friday photos of my last fall flowers.

 Last blooms - pink

Last blooms - yellow

 

For me fall is always bittersweet. On one hand it’s a beautiful season with everything changing colors and dressing up in striking yellows, reds and oranges, and on the other hand it’s the sadness of shorter days, the first hints of frost in the air, and the dying of the greens as they prepare for their long hibernation.  I’d take summer over any other season any day, but if I lived in the land of summer, I’d have to put up with year round spiders! So I don’t.

 

Last blooms - spider

The birth of a baby

My gardening ignorance knows no bounds, so for the longest time I wondered how exactly are tomatoes appear on the vine? I know this is a trite question to preoccupy my mind with, what with all the thinking I could be doing about world peace and the nature of happiness and all, but occupy me it did.

 

Normally I turn to Google to solve my quandaries, but for some reason, in this case the effort proved worthless. Experienced gardeners already knew the answer, and all I could find was chipperly ignorant answers from other first time gardeners. (Speaking of, I drove by a church readerboard the other day that proclaimed “Google does NOT have all the answers.” I guess that proves them right. Made me laugh.)

 

For weeks while I waited for something, anything to happen with the tomatoes who were flowering leisurely, I circled the plants like a hungry shark waiting for some sign of a bulge. Would it come from behind the flower like a cucumber?  Would it form inside the flower itself? I didn’t want to miss the moment that would answer this cruicial question so every day I checked for the telltale little green ball that would tell me my efforts would be rewarded.

 

And when finally, my first plant, the Black Prince, decided to reward my patience, and I had my answer. So I thought I’d share it with anyone else who may be wondering how exactly the magic happens and where to look for it next time. And then the photo turned out blurry. And then I cried. But I’ll post it anyway, because a crappy photo still solves the mystery once and for all. The flower wilts, people, wilts! And from BEHIND the wilted flower the tomato starts peeking out. First as a teeny little pea, and rather quickly grows to a large orange that proceeds to turn lighter and lighter until allegedly, it begins to ripen. But I’ll try and take a photo of that as it happens. Does it start on top? Side?…

 

Blurry baby tomato

 

Baby tomato got big

The evolution of a tomato:

 

It’s hard to describe just how much tomatoes love their self-watering containers, but these photos speak for themselves:

They went from this:

Seedlings

 

To this:

Evo - tall babies

 

To the great outdoors:

Evo - outside

 

Where they grew:

Evo - half way there

 

And became monsters: (notice no more window, they’re easily six feet tall)

Evo - jungle

 

And finally, finally weeks after they were expected they produced actual REAL tomatoes:

 Evo - actual tomatoes

 

This has been a very trying year for many gardeners and farmers. From late blight in many areas to a very late start to the season up north, from late thaws to a cold and windy and rainy summer, it seems like everything was stacked against poor crops this year. Probably this is, because I started a garden. But I’ve taken a look at many a friends’ garden patch to see how their ‘maters are doing, and after doing that I’m especially impressed by mine.

Most tomatoes around here hover around two feet tall, with a few tomatoes on each plant. This is owing to poor clayey soil, insufficient water, chilly nights and a short season, but my plants have persevered and are easily the tallest I’ve seen outside the greenhouse.  They started producing quite late, due to a cold summer, but if there’s any hope of a warm September, I may even see a few of them ripen. Here’s hoping!