Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's Over

I tried to make it work.
I failed.
It's finito.

Southern California is world famous for growing oranges, lemons and the budgets of blockbuster Hollywood movies but this summer it failed in the tomato department. I know what you're thinking: "Are my tax dollars paying for the Tomato Department," let me assure you that they most definitely are not. And even if they were--which they most assuredly are not--it would not have helped the pathetic red fruits in my backyard's garden patch. In fact, the entire bajillion-dollar budget of the federal government could not have helped any of my tomatoes. And that was before the government shut down.

This year was the worst six months of tomato growing on record--that is, on my record. There are some years that produce superior quality products, like: 1) Chevrolet's 1955 Bel Air; 2) Bordeaux's 1982 grapes; 3) Last year's tomatoes. But this year was horrible for tomatoes, or as the experts call it, "An icky, stinker year".

My summer tomatoes were small in size and smaller in number. For months, going out to the veggie patch to pick sun-ripened tomatoes was depressing. So I'd made a decision: I would rip out the tomatoes and not replant them or any other veggie or fruit. I was done with fruits and veggies. In the future, I would just plant perennials and natives. I cleared the garden bed in 6.1 seconds dumping the dead tomato plants in the greens bin. Jackson, my trusty helping cat, sat near me looking on with disinterest.

Staring at the empty garden bed the mystery of why the tomato plants failed fired my mind. Much like how a murder mystery would tickle the brain of the brilliant Sherlock Holmes. A thought came to me. Perhaps the cause for the paltry pasta-sauce making produce was due to global warming? Yes, Watson! The planet's warmer temperatures had caused 1) Fires in Colorado; 2) The Super Storms of Sandy; and 3) Iceland's entire population to have golden, full-body tans. So perhaps global warming had prohibited tomato growth in my backyard? It was elementary! Although… tomatoes do love the sun, which is why they grow so well in SoCal, Italy and at the beach.

"Global warming was not to blame for my lack of tomatoes," I told my trusty helper. Jackson licked his paw.

Perhaps it was the lack of bees? Bees are pollinators who play a crucial role in fertilizing plants to produce the fruit, which ripens to feed every pasta lover on the planet. However an epidemic was sweeping farm country--and my backyard--where whole bee colonies were dying. Ah-ha, Watson! Fewer bees translated to fewer tomatoes. It was so elementary! However after significant research, it seemed that the bees have been dying off because of pesticide use. I didn't use any pesticides in my backyard, which meant:

"The lack of bees did not cause my lack of tomatoes," I announced to my trusty sidekick. Jackson rolled in the sun.

What other reason could explain the slim pickings in my tomato patch this summer?

"TCH, TCH!" A sharp sound echoed across the yard. I looked to the fence and there, perched on it like he owned the place was my ultimate nemesis: The Squirrel. And he looked very plump. Of course, Watson! That sneaky, no good rodent was the cause of my puny tomato pickings. His thicker body and serious weight gain was all thanks to the tomatoes he'd stolen and eaten since May! It's very elementary! I knew just what to do!

"Attack, Jackson!" I said willing my lazy kitty to action. But he didn't need my encouragement, he'd heard The Squirrel and was staring right at the portly rodent.

"TCH, TCH!" The Squirrel flicked its bushy tail, which only spurned Jackson on. Jackson bent his legs then slunk across the yard to the fence where our supreme nemesis perched. Jackson leaped into the rosemary bed. I saw the panic in The Squirrel's beady eyes. Jackson extended his forelegs up the fence with an audible "Ping, Ping, PING!" as his claws sprung out like Samurai swords. His sharp claws were just two feet from The Squirrel. As the rodent's eyes popped out of its head, he turned and scampered into the neighbor's tree far away from my trusty, clawed assistant. And what a trusty assistant! He was my Watson and I was his Holmes. He would keep The Squirrel at bay!

This year is over and it will go down as the worst year for tomatoes. But this fall I'm planting again: spinach, lettuce, broccoli, kale, onions, and chives to be ready for tomato planting next summer.

It's beginning.