• John Shore

Tomato Plants in Bondage


As you can see from this picture, my tomato plants are currently in a state of bondage that would make the Marquis de Sade . . . well, take up gardening.


[Note to self: “Fifty Shades of Green”? Yes! Kermit’s secret night life? Mistress Piggy? No: A counterfeiter of $100 bills realizes he’s color blind. Despondent, he meets a rich yacht owner who really knows his Navy knots. No: A wealthy sophisticated pot farmer (Mr. Green Jeans?) brings a beautiful but naive college student to the very brink of changing her major from phys ed to horticultural ethics. No: Just no. Stop it.]


Okay, raise your hand if you remember Mr. Green Jeans.


Now go rub some Vicks VapoRub on your shoulder since you just aggravated your bursitis. I’ll do the same.


Okay, I’m back.


Oh, great. Now I’ve got Vicks VapoRub vapors melting my right ear.


Anyway, about my tomato plants. (I would say our tomato plants, but when my wife, Catherine, beheld my unquestionably exquisite handiwork with the twine, she said calmly, “Isn’t that interesting?” walked to our car, and drove away. Two hours later I called her sister. Her sister’s husband, a psychologist who specializes in sexual addiction, answered the phone, told me he’d seen the picture of our tomatos plants, and begged me to schedule a session with him. Then I heard his wife wrangling her phone from his grip. “He can’t be helped!” was all I heard her say before the line went dead. So I’m pretty sure my wife is staying at her sister’s house for an indeterminate amount of time.)


Speaking of indeterminate, tomato plants come in exactly two (2) varieties: Bushy, and Capable of Grabbing Children Right Off The Street.


The technical terms for these plants are, respectively, determinate and indeterminate.

A determinate tomato plant grows into a nice, regular size bush, and then stays that size. They are determined to be normal plants.


An indeterminate tomato plant, on the other hand, is determined to grow so large so fast that one minute you’re in your garden petting your dog, and the next your dog has disappeared and you’ve got a tomato vine wrapped around your neck.


Fun fact: The original title of Jack and the Beanstalk was Jack and the Indeterminate Tomato Plant That Ate Camelot.


Big. These plants grow big.


You know what else is big? My appetite for cherry tomatos. And therein, my friends, lies the grub. Because cherry tomatoes only grow on indeterminate tomato plants. (As far as I know, anyway. And it’s as far as I want to know, since I refuse to believe that I’ve lost good dogs for no reason.)


I love cherry tomatos! They’re the gum drops of being in the garden. You just pluck one off the vine, pop it in your mouth, and Bob’s your uncle.


Try doing that with a regular tomato, and you better hope Bob’s your expert at the the Heimlich manuever, because you’re about to choke to death. Last year I was taking a work break in my garden when I absentmindedly tried to cram into my mouth a yellow Heirloom tomato the size of a capybara. Besides getting about a gallon of Heirloom ketchup up my nose, I dislocated my jaw. It still clicks when I chew.


And about a month from now I expect my jaw to be clicking away like Fred Astaire on cocaine whenever I’m in my garden. Because I’ll be out there munching on cherry tomatoes like a person who’s entirely forgotten that they still randomly sneeze out tomato seeds.


It’ll be just me, a handful of bite-size tomatoes, and my new dog, Fertilizer.


Until then I’ll just have to wait, buy some more green twine, and trust that before long Catherine will definitely stop thinking of me as fifty shades of a decision she regrets.

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