If I thought it would hasten the process, I would plop a lawn chair out amongst the tomatoes, and watch them as they ever-so-slowly ripen. They say the only two things that money can’t buy are true love and home-grown tomatoes.Well, I am here to say that I can’t do anything about the first item, but I can hook you up with home-grown ‘maters, just as soon as they arrive. Like the Irish, I enjoy sliced tomatoes for breakfast, not to mention lunch, dinner and snacks.
Salt and pepper is essential, but welcome additions include a little basaltic vinegar, some drizzled olive oil and hopefully some feta cheese. Cooked tomatoes, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, tomato paste, cold-packed tomatoes, marinara sauce, catsup: You name it, we create it.
I’d say the ‘maters were taking their jolly good time, but that would be ignoring the fact that I did not get them in the ground until the first week-to ten days into June.
We had an inordinately wet and cool spring, delaying the germination process, and in some instances, derailing it entirely. I do not have the 120 Heinz tomatoes that I wanted, but I have more than sixty, so that will have to do. What I am seeing out in the orchard, right now, assures me that I am ahead of the game in terms of what I was expecting.
My memory of tomatoes in the orchard in past summers, as questionable as said memory is, has me pleasantly surprised at what is developing, gophers and all. Part of it is the cleaning of the water filters every other day, to ensure maximum water flow.
Part is the ongoing effort to keep all weeds out of the arena, again, for the simple reason that water diverted to weeds, is not water available to tomatoes. Finally, viral defense of my territory against the land-sharks, submarining beneath the surface of the soil, and attacking my plants, is high on the agenda.
With the use of the traps, I feel as though I am getting their attention. This is no go-through-the-motions exercise; I am getting sophisticated as I proceed. My earliest efforts at setting the baitless traps were primitive, at best, with me locating the tunnel and digging a hole which intercepted it. Simply placing the trap in the hole, and tying a stick to the trap to keep the gopher from escaping down the tunnel with it attached in some way, I covered it up with a small piece of plywood and hoped for the best.
Well, the best would be a trophy gopher for me to skin and hang on the gate, as a message to the legions of other land-sharks, that I ain’t fooling around.
Short of that, I am pleased to accept the next best thing, and that is a cessation of the attacks on my defenseless soldiers. Only one additional victim has joined the original four, and that is what matters most. I am more than happy to give credit to the presence of the traps, but I must also inform you that I have upped my game.
Now I am digging a smaller hole, taking a smaller trowel and clearing the dirt out of the tunnel in either of the two directions. I next insert the trap well into the tunnel tightly, so there is no way the little varmint can bypass the trap, and again attaching a wire to the trap to keep from losing it down the tunnel.
I still have not caught any gophers, but I am holding my own on losses. One revelation occurred when I realized that gopher tunnels do not go east to west, following the same route as the terraces. No, they gallivant off in any direction whatsoever.
I have a theory as to why I have not lost as many tomato plants, proportionately, as last year. My theory is that the tomatoes are better cared for, while receiving more water, and are therefore better able to sustain the relentless attacks of the hidden miscreants.
We also have three cats now, and we have adjusted their daily rations to include kibble only. If they want meat, they’re gonna have to go hunting. I shouldn’t be in this alone.
Besides, all I want is the skin-they're welcome to the rest.