Time has finally caught up with us. Okay, maybe I should say the weather has finally caught up with us. Our first major frost is due tomorrow night, and I’m not ready – eeekkkk! The exterior garden is pretty much demolished – so no problem there. The decision now is do I want to keep the greenhouse tomatoes going through to next year or break out my Edward Scissorhands clippers and have at it?
My major concern is not devastating the bush, but how bad the bush will devastate me. The darn thing is from the nightshade family. Very poisonous prospect, and an oxymoron if you really think about it. How did anyone ever come to realize that a tomato was edible? I know that most of what we eat is from watching critters. If they eat it, must be ok – however- nothing will eat the tomato vine. The fruit (yep it’s a fruit) is, to me, outstanding! So many varieties of uses – ketchup, sauces, Pico, and best to me – raw!! We put them in tons of things from eggs to meats to noodles. When you combine several together you get an amazing flavor (that’s how we make our pasta sauce).
So what am I so worried about – the vines. Years past I was able to tear at them with minimal body covering (ok, clean it up, I’m talking shorts and a tank top then)…but not now. Now I need full body armor! Pants, socks, ankle high boots, long sleeve shirt or at least a long sleeve jacket, gloves and most important – a clean rag.
The rag came about when I found out that I could no longer deal with the treacherous monster without full body armor. I make the mistake of taking out the outside vines 2 years ago by simply hacking away at them. I knew what they were back then, but at that time they did not infest me. Well, on this fateful day it happened to be bright, sunny and on the warmer side. As I worked I began to perspire (women perspire – men sweat – what a crock but that’s for another day) and subconsciously wiping the wet from my face – using my hands which were not encased in gloves. I believed that gloves were for sissys that were afraid to get their hands dirty – also, not anymore!
The poison weeping from the vines as I hacked away at them was doing its dastardly revenge from the moment I touched them. It leaked all over my hands and arms, I lifted both to help remove the moister from my face and eyes and the damage was done! The killer tomatoes had gotten vengeance. They were stealthy – doing injury when I least expected it! This was a year, after all, just like the previous years so why should I do anything different? Ha, ha, ha, silly me! NOTHING ever stays the same!!
I did my dirty deed on the gardens. I took everything down for the winters’ rest, as it should be. I went to bed that evening feeling like a hero! I had accomplished every fall cleanup item on my “to-do list” in record time. I showered after a hard days’ work but it was already too late. The sneaky tomato was enforcing its revenge upon me without my knowing it.
I woke the next morning looking like a blow fish!
WWWHHHAAATTTT???? I was swollen from my eyes to my feet with the worst being on my face (of course!). I was awake, but my eyes were thin little slits to peek through. My sinuses were so plugged that I had to hang my mouth open to breathe a heavy breather on a nasty phone call. And the facial skin itself was so stretched from the attack that I could not see a single wrinkle (bonus!? Hee hee). My fingers were so swollen I could not make a fist and a burning rash had broken out almost everywhere. The first think (yes think) I did was yell for help.
Well, help came but not before laughing hysterically for several minutes first! Very funny – not!!! My sister then reminded me about the nightshade family in the tomato. So that was the culprit. She continued to laugh while helping to rub aloe lotion on me, also reminding me of all the time I teased her about her “sensitive” skin (she breaks out in a rash at the drop of a hat). Now I was to learn exactly how she felt – in the most painful way!
The majority of the swelling went down after a couple of days, the rash took a bit longer. But I did learn a very valuable lesson. The tomato doesn’t care what your skin type is. It doesn’t care that you may have killed it in the past without feeing its agony. It only cares about the first moment you DO notice it. That moment when it can come out on your unsuspecting self and seek revenge!
So, now I know that I will attack the monster with full body armor, but I will display my kinder side. I will allow part of the plant to remain in the plot. I will cover it with extra protection and even add a small space heater so that the temperature will remain above freezing in its mini-tunnel. I will allow it to continue to provide us with fruit in a slower manner throughout the winter.
In turn, I believe, it will not decide to attack me. At least not until the next time I get stupid and try to clear it jungle style! It had better remember that revenge is sweet, especially served up in a pasta sauce!
Now, my older friends, you know where they got the idea for that wonderful “B” movie from back in the 70’s – Attack of the killer tomatoes. Enjoy!! (oh, and of course don’t forget that great theme song )