August 12th, 2009

Creative Joyous Cat

AL (For red_trillium)

My partner's been calling this "the story of the little tomato that could".

Last year, I tried starting some old heirloom tomato seeds indoors in a large pot in mid-spring.  They weren't having any of it.  But the pot was right next to some other plants, so I let habit take over and kept watering it.  Mid-summer, one lonely little tomato seedling sprouted.  (This was before I got my new cell phone/camera, so I have no pictures at that point, though it looked like any other tomato seedling.)

The plant grew very slowly at first.  Come late September (which is early fall in Milwaukee) it was about the right size to put outside, if it had been spring.  But it wasn't spring, or even summer.  So it stayed in the pot in my windowsill.  And it grew.  It survived the coldest winter nights, when we were wearing sweatshirts and sweatpants inside because there's only so much a furnace can do when the temperature plummets suddenly.  And it started to grow faster.  By January, it badly needed to be staked up, but all the tomato stakes were frozen under snow outside.  So we raided the basement, found an old pool cue that would need substantial work to be usable again, and used that.  The pool cue was clearly labeled "AL"  Suddenly, the tomato plant had a name!

It kept growing.  Even though the kitchen is large, I started to hear muttered comments about the plant trying to take over. 

It set flowers, and I started to think I might get tomatoes indoors--and we almost did!  Some tiny tomatoes formed, then, despite regular watering, they wilted, along with most of the leaves at the ends of the plant.  It was rootbound, and barely February!  We had to repot it, so we did.

Now, it was too heavy to keep on top of the TV, so the TV got moved above microwave.  And it kept growing.  It was so tall that when it finally got warm enough to move it outside, we had to hold it at knee level to not knock off the top of the plant, despite our tall doorways!

I always plant tomatoes deep, it helps keep the stems steady and encourages growth, since the buried stems quickly develop more roots.

Outside, it first lost a bunch of leaves.  (This is common--plants make leaves sturdy enough for the weather conditions; leaves that grow with never a heavy raindrop, indirect light, and no wind are too fragile to last long outdoors.  Another set of flowers mostly fell off.)

But new leaves sprouted and new flowers blossomed.  And it grew!

Here is the plant today.  Despite the tendency of tomatoes to spread outward instead of upward, it's nearly as tall as my shoulders, and as wide as my "wingspan" in both directions. 

Now it has at least a dozen large green tomatoes, and it already gave me one very tasty ripe tomato.  All tomatoes can split at the top like this if they suddenly get hot wet weather; this is a Cherokee Purple, which are especially susceptible to splitting like this.  But I have a special delight for growing purple veggies, and really like the flavor of this variety. 

Creative Joyous Cat

Fireborn: Wakey Wakey, with Water

Here is another installment in the story that begins here.


Orchid woke to the sound of splashing, and unfamiliar voices, and cracked an eye open to see her mother sitting up, yawning, with a tall lakeborn man with bright-colored scales tattooed along his sides standing next to her. She started to sit up, but realized Mud was curled up on top of the trailing part of her left wing, still sleeping soundly. No wonder her shoulder felt cramped. "Hey, Mud."

The girl mumbled in her sleep, and wiggled a bit, but didn't wake.

Then, suddenly, there were two small sets of webbed feet next to her, and cold drops of water hitting her face. She looked up. Two lakeborn kids, not old enough to tell if they were boys or girls, stood there, dripping. The younger reached out and spilled a surprising amount of water from a cupped hand onto Mud's face and Orchids' wing.

"Wake up, sleepy Muddy!"Collapse )

If you are new to my journal, you may not realize that one of the things that pushed me into sharing my work online is that I was laid off in January. My thought was that this would be a way to get some feedback on my writing, to keep me motivated to write on a very regular basis, and to generate a little income along the way. Over the next few days, I'm going to be evaluating the various writing things I've been doing, both publicly and writing for traditional publication, and considering whether I'm allocating my time between projects well.

If you want to weigh in on this question, or are simply enjoying this story, now's a good time to let me know!

I painted new art for the Paypal sponsor button--this is it's "opening day". You folks are the first to see it. What do you think--should it also say "Click Here" or is it sufficiently obvious as is?

The story continues here.