Monday, April 20, 2009

Why Tomato Plants?

Someone asked me in mock exasperation if I had named my tomato plants. So of course, I had to. The big Jubilee (yellow tomatoes) is Rasputin (hard to kill) and the Terrific (red beefsteak tomatoes) is Audry (from Little Shop of Horrors.) The four Roma tomato plants, bought to provide tomatoes for freezing, are the Rolling Stones (longevity) and Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood both have tiny green tomatoes. Charlie Watts is pictured above.

I thought the flat of Roma tomatoes had four tomato plants, but it actually had five, and being unable to just throw out the one I really didn't have room for, I put it in a pot and stuck it on a deck. Pictured below is Brian Jones, who is in a better place than the other Rolling Stones. (Okay, actually not. The plant is more spindly than the others, although still setting blossoms.)

I'm very invested in these damn plants--or at least what they stand for to me. I know what they represent and it is all unreasonable: control in economically uncertain times, the promise of some self reliance. They are my bomb shelter, my gun collection, my little utopia. It's absurd. Seven tomato plants aren't going to sustain much. As for control, they are subject to whims as arbitrary as the economic and social weather we're experiencing these days.

Their next threat is the replacement of our roof, sometime in the next couple of weeks. When roofers are stripping a roof, they have to toss the shingles somewhere, and it will only take one shingle to completely wipe out Keith Richards. So I had it written into the roofing contract that they won't toss shingles on my garden.

I haven't gotten a single tomato yet. It's only April and even in Texas, where the growing season starts early, it's too soon. But I'm already thinking about how I'll expand the garden next year. Garlic. Maybe some onion sets. More peppers (I only have one chili plant.) Assuming I do get tomatoes, by July I will be sick of them. Rather than expanding the garden next year, it will be interesting to see if I even have one. (Well, probably herbs, I've had herbs for years. Herbs are weeds and take very little care.)

I dream of solar panels. I think about how even if we paid off the house we'd still have to pay real estate taxes. We are becoming the problem that economists talk about--people who will not spend. If spending is down, the economy continues to stall.

Did you know that in Austin, it is legal to own chickens within the city limits? That would cover some of our protein needs. The eggs, not the chickens. Yesterday we were talking about what we would name chickens if we had them. We decided we would name them Soup, Parmesan, Cacciatore and Esmeralda. Bob always wanted a chicken named Esmeralda.


Blogger jesswynne said...

There are a lot of chickens in my neighborhood. Goats, too.

April 20, 2009 12:25 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I could ship you a goat, Maureen, all fattened up and ready for dinner :)

I want chickens. They're easy to raise and when they start to get on your nerves you just eat them. Steve says no. I'd like to get a feeder pig, but Steve nixed that, too, even though we'd only have it for about 4 months before processing.

As for self-reliance - check this out: I sent this to Steve as a joke - his response: "We should order one of those."

Best wishes on your tomatoes. Are they hybrids or can you harvest the seeds and get new little Keith Richards?

April 20, 2009 1:38 PM  
Blogger Austin Kleon said...

We were in somebody's back yard one of our first weekends in town, and this crazy-looking hippie and his barefoot wife came up to the fence and asked if we'd seen their chickens. One out of many "Welcome To Austin" moments...

April 20, 2009 4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When my brother lived in Portland, he and his wife kept chickens. The McNugget family, they called them. Sassy McNugget, Bossy McNugget, and Brainy McNugget (I think that was a joke).

When they moved to Salem (where chickens are not allowed) and sold the house, the buyers kept the chickens.

Carrie V.

April 20, 2009 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Mary Kay said...

nd it will only take one shingle to completely wipe out Keith RichardsOh, hey! Surely Our Keef is tougher than that! (I now want to name my basil plant Mick Jagger.)


April 20, 2009 7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love everything about this naming scheme.

April 20, 2009 9:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi Maureen!

We just had our roof replaced after last fall's hurricane damage. I have a piece of advice - take your hangings off the walls. the guys stomping around on the roof & dropping huge bundles of shingles can set up enough vibration to knock down clocks & pictures!

love ya

Mary Piero Carey

April 21, 2009 12:06 PM  
Blogger Adrienne Martini said...

This might be a solution for you problems:

April 21, 2009 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Meghan said...

Chickens are also legal in New York! My roommates are not too excited about this idea, however. Also, we don't have a backyard...

April 21, 2009 1:50 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Love, love those chicken names! Now you MUST get them.
Don't worry, we'll help you eat the tomatoes.
Oh, and, I can promise you hours of entertainment after the roofing job; just get Bob a magnet on a stick and send him out looking for nails in the grass.

April 23, 2009 10:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

They have changed the law here in Cleveland too. Residents are allowed either 6 chickens (hens not roosters), 6 ducks or 6 rabbits and/or 2 bee hives. I am working on getting rid of the roosters in our neighborhood that crow from sunup to after sundown. We think the people who own them are fighting them but they have to be caught at it.

July 06, 2009 5:06 PM  
Anonymous tips malam pertama said...

chicken name esmeralda.. that's weird, but i think it is kind a cute :-)

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