Thursday, April 2, 2009

Planting Tomatoes

I just finished planting this year's tomato garden, a labor of love I do every year if I possibly can. This year was harder than previous years because of the relapse and the chemo, but I managed anyway. What I'd like to do now is repeat a post I wrote a while ago for ACOR's myeloma list because planting is such a positive thing to do (a statement that I intend to be around to enjoy the fruit). The photo was taken today :)

I think every boy is a born hydrologist. Even advancing age can't rob of us of the pleasure of peeing on a tree somewhere. After prepping my tiny garden, I found myself a comfy chair in partial shade and a six-pac of good Mexican beer (Corona), hooked up my garden hose, and did the fun part of preparing the bed: leveling the dirt.

I had finished tilling the soil (I really love my tiny Honda roto-tiller) in my 12x16 tomato garden, amending it as I went along with sacks of manure and compost (the soil in SoCAL is hard clay and rocks--amending it every year, though, has created a tiny plot so lush that I swear if you stuck your finger in it your ears would sprout — even if you aren't old enough for that to come naturally.

Then I take the hose and a high-pressure stream, sit in my chair with a Corona, and level the dirt. I take loving care in breaking up the big clods and attacking the slight rises until the entire plot is covered with water and no land is visible. Just like the Flood in Genesis. I played G-d today.

Tomorrow, the tomatoes go in. I add phosphorous to the hole, then plant them with about three inches of stem horizontal under ground level because the stems sprout roots and the plant grows faster. I'll plant some early maturing varieties first, then plant a few more every month to stretch out the harvest.

Sitting there, sipping the beer (which is a godsend, because the transplant, in lowering my saliva, made my mouth desert-like with hard work), enjoying the sunlight in the 78 degree weather, I reminded myself that one of the best ways of coping with this awful disease is to release my inner existentialist and simply enjoy the warm sun, the hosing of the dirt, the hummingbirds that came by to see what was going on, the slight breezes in my walled-in back yard, and the wonder of my continued existence. Time disappeared from my radar. I was in no hurry at all as I, like every grown-up boy, hosed down my plot.

Now I need to clean myself off in the steam bath and take a nap. I'm certainly tipsy in that wonderful way that only beer during hard outdoor work can give a man. I think for the first time this week I'm pleased with the world and myself (I've been on a tear — irritable as hell for days), and just felt like sharing the moment with y'all.

— Be well!


  1. Rereading my post, the mention of dry mouth gives away the date as early 2006, about six months after my first (and, thus far, only) transplant. I was still complaining ("when is he not?"), but clearly I was functioning again.

  2. I align with your intention to be around to enjoy the fruit... and many more things, too. If we all align with you, Lon, the power of that energy is bound to bring good results!

  3. I am quite jealous as it will be 6-8 weeks before it is safe to plant tomatoes here. For now, my new raised beds are still under snow especially after the 12" of new snow we received last week. At least today it is gloriously sunny and warm (around 60F) and there are signs that spring is on the way.

    Janet (in Idaho)

  4. My daughter and I enjoyed your blog. Sounds like whatever you're smoking is pretty good. Hope you keep your connections. Let us know when the margaritas are ready. We have basil that will go very well with those tomatoes of yours. I'll make the salad.


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