The garden is fighting back and I have the black eye to prove it.

Its a hard life being a tomato
Its a hard life being a tomato

After months of being cruelly tied to a post the tomatoes broke free from their shackles with some kind of mob mentality.  In one day 12 of my 20 odd tomatoes one by one snapped their stakes in a bid for freedom.  Their escape was hampered by the fact that they are bound to the earth by their own roots.  They were like lemmings taking an ill-fated plunge in what they believed would be a better life.

I mean when you think about it the life of a tomato plant isn’t exactly a bed of roses.  After an early start in a cosseted environment, within the warm and security of the greenhouse, their every whim is met.  Then comes the day when they are thrust out in to the cold with no hope of escape as they are buried up to their necks in the cold claggy soil of spring, that smells a little of poo as the bed had not so long ago been enriched with bags of equine offerings.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" - not if it is a scarlet runner bean hiding behind a different moniker.  I thought I'd banned that kind of bean from my garden!
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – not if it is a scarlet runner bean hiding behind a different moniker. I thought I’d banned that kind of bean from my garden!

Then as they grow their armpit growths are ripped out without so much as a sedative to dull the pain. Into adolescence their typical wayward behaviour is control by physical restraint. Not just once, but several times as they are tied to the post like some kind of kidnapped seafarer in a pirate drama.  They can’t even escape the constant buzzing as the bees hound them and steal their pollen!  Even the supply of tomato food is hit and miss as the festive season distracts the responsibilities of the gardener.  As they reach towards the sun like it’s some kind of deity offering their only salvation the gardener comes again and removes whole limbs exposing their nether regions to all and sundry.

My first Hungarian Wax Pepper
My first Hungarian Wax Pepper

The greatest indignity comes when the gardener comes and steals their babies!!!! So they can eat them!  Its no wonder my tomatoes made their bid for freedom.  Or maybe they were pushed. For days and weeks now the wind has been egging them on, whispering seditious lies, telling them to loosen their shackles – suggesting there is more to life and they should let go and check it out.  But the wind was full of lies and all they ended up doing was falling flat on their face!

The wind has been whispering to the cucumbers too, but they have more sense than to believe the lies.  So they wrap their tendrils around the nearest thing and hang on for all their lives are worth!
The wind has been whispering to the cucumbers too, but they have more sense than to believe the lies. So they wrap their tendrils around the nearest thing and hang on for all their lives are worth!

I do care about my tomatoes, and am distraught with the thought that they were lying on the ground, looking all broken.  My reaction was to act immediately and so I jumped in the car and raced off to get reinforcements in the guise of new posts, stronger posts.  Only the best will do for my plants.  I headed straight for the strong metal warratah posts.  I got a bit of a shock!  Ok so maybe the second best for my plants, not with prices like those.  So I settled on two packs of plastic coated stakes with three in each.  One pack coincidentally happened to be the exact same price as one warratah and I had half a dozen plants down and sadly money doesn’t grow on trees.

Standing proud and tall once again!
Standing proud and tall once again!

Once home I began my first aid and pulled the first couple of plants back onto their feet and lashed them tightly to the post.  I think they were happy to be vertical again, although they looked a little abashed for attempting such a foolhardy endeavour, or was that just bashed – by the wind.

However plant three – I think it was an Oxheart, had a bullish unwillingness to conform and as I tried push the stake into the soft soil, the metal bent under my efforts and unexpectedly snapped, smacking me in the face and sending my glasses flying.  I had to get the Joeyosaurus and Tim the Helper to help me find them as I couldn’t see to see!  Once my glasses were retrieved from the top of the tallest tomato a grabbed a new stake and carefully but determinedly plunged it deep into the earth and secured that plant to within an inch of its life.  That baby’s not going anywhere!

Seriously?!  More going down!?!  They are just like dominos.
Seriously?! More going down!?! They are just like dominos.

Once all the stakes I have were in I looked about to see more plants had made the leap and where leaning all over the place like drunks at a party.  So back to the store for more stakes, and the good people there replaced the broken stake, because they didn’t think I looked strong enough to have used excess force!

Each gardening year brings its challenges.  Last year it was the rain in summer and this year it is the wind.  But all you can do is make the best of it to get through the season, learn from it and make changes so you won’t have to go through it again and wonder what challenges next year will bring.  Maybe next year won’t have any problems and it’ll be the perfect growing season.  One can only dream!

What I hold in my very garden stained hand is the most exciting thing:  An advance copy of my book!  It will be available in all good bookstores in NZ and Australia in March. It looks amazing!
What I hold in my very garden stained hand is the most exciting thing: An advance copy of my book! It will be available in all good bookstores in NZ and Australia in March. It looks amazing!

Come again soon – the garden actually has good bits and isn’t the train wreck I’ve made it out to be!

Sarah the Gardener  : o )

29 thoughts on “The garden is fighting back and I have the black eye to prove it.

  1. Sarah – I have grown tomatoes for decades and I found this a beuatiful personfication of the life of a tomato plant. How funny the part was about we gardener’s coming to take their babies, to eat! I laughed audibly after that and loved every word you posted.

    I cannot say I have ever suffered from stakes snapping. Even with wood stakes this had never been my experience. Currently however, I have solid alumimum stakes about the diameter of my finger. They are 6.5 foot tall and once pound them in the ground I am good for the entire season.

    I plan to begin posting garden theme offerings soon. RIght now most of my work is centered on my recent mission trip to Belize or fiction that I am working on to polish so i can complete a manuscript for publication. I hope when I begin you will come around to enjoy my experience from the other side of the world and different hemisphere.

    1. Hi Joe.
      I’m so glad you enjoyed my tomato post. I think next year I will invest in stronger support, and will then probably find that wind won’t be a problem at all! It’s always the way – there is always some kind of problem, but it’s never the same as the year before.
      I look forward to see your garden writing, I enjoy a burst of summer sunshine in the middle of my winters!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  2. I am SO buying your book as soon as I see it on the shelves! I would feel privilaged to have your book on my gardening shelves of the bookcase 🙂 bugger it…I will just have it on the computer desk at hand for whenever I need it! 🙂 Although Steve and I have 4 years of horticultural study under our belt and a fistful of diplomas (another one arrived in the mail yesterday to be tucked into the pile and forgotten 😉 ) we have NO idea how to grow veggies. I didn’t know that their armpit hair had to be removed! Is THAT why my girls look like they are modelling the latest french hairy look? I have foliage everywhere and I am supposed to feed the tomatoes? No-one has apparently told them, because they are growing well…might just mix up a mess of tasty liquid things for them today and spray nonchalantly in case they get wind (sorry for the bad pun there 😉 ) of it…Excellent post written with good humour. The son and heir and the object of his desire are currently in N.Z. applying for an extension visa…he is armed with a wheelbarrow load of your money (we get a good deal on it here in Australia… a bit like the Brit’s coming here 😉 ) and they are hoping beyond hope that our Aussie government will give her another 6 months so that they can become a permanent fixture…so far they LOVE NZ…I wouldn’t be surprised if they decide to move there to be honest and get married in hobbitville. I might get to visit NZ yet ;). Keep us in the loop as to when your book is coming out so I can head in to check our local bookstores 🙂

    1. Hi Fran.
      Thank you so much for your lovely comments. The book should be out March 8 and I’m really started to get excited and nervous at the same time. This time last year I was just an anonymous gardener, and now… well who knows what will happen this year!

      Sometime plants grow perfectly well without our intervention and if your tomatoes look healthy then you are doing the right thing anyway!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi there. For all that tomatoes are frustrating to grow, it is so worth it in the end when you get to eat them. Thanks for your kind words, I’m so excited about the book.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

      1. I hope someday to have a book as well. I figure I’d get the blogging down first and then sort out the rest. 🙂 One step at a time!

        We love to make mozzarella cheese to have with the fresh tomatoes. Heaven!

        1. Funny enough it was on my list to make mozzerella cheese this week while the basil is still at its best and there are now enough tomatoes coming ripe every day to feed everyone! Really excited.
          Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi there. I will see if I am able to sell the book on my website, as at the moment it is only being offered in New Zealand and Australia. Thank you for your kind words.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

  3. Congratulations and what a great post! Even some of my super-heavy duty tomatoes cages collapsed under the weight of this year’s tomatoes. I don’t know the solution, but cannot endure the concept of sprawl.

    1. HI There. Thanks for you kind words. I think with the tomatoes, each season I will continue to explore new posibilities for a foolproof support system, as I really prefer order in my garden, and the tomatoes need to stand to attention like soldiers on parade!
      Cheers Sarah : o )

    1. Hi there. Thanks for joining up. The book is really cool. It won’t be in stores until March 8, but there is all this activity building up behind the scenes and it’s really exciting.
      Cheers Sarah : o )

        1. Yes it is my only book. Everyone keeps saying “when’s the next one? – but I am still shocked that I have the “first” one! It’s all quite surreal. This time last year I was just gardening and blogging with a modest following. I can’t even begin to imagine what this time next year will be like.
          Cheers Sarah : o )

  4. Congratulations on your book.

    I normally grow my tomatoes in the greenhouse, the weather over here in the UK being a touch uncertain even in summer and blight a very real danger most seasons. Last summer, though, I did have to plant out 9 that had started life as snipped ‘arm pits’ and they grew like triffids in the beds! Had to re-stake each one twice due to wind and eventually ended up with a runner bean type row of bamboos to support them all. Best tasting tomatoes I’ve grown, much better than the greenhouse ones.

    I hope your tomatoes survive their wind blown adventure.

    1. Hi there.
      When you first plant out tomato plants they seem so small and vulnerable and it is hard to conceive that they will grow so large they can’t support themselves. Each year my tomato infrastructure gets stronger and stronger. I think in a couple of years I’ll have a fool proof device to stop them toppling over under their own weight.
      Having said that they are a lot more resilient than they seem – the ones that just pop up from seeds grow better that the mollycoddled ones!
      Cheers Sarah : o)

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