It’s spring and I’m trying to grow growing tomatoes on my balcony. Here’s a picture of the plant:

tomato plant










 It’s in a metal container in about eight inches of dirt (“Organic soil,” the plastic bag said). This picture was taken about 7 PM yesterday so the light you see is the evening sun. It doesn’t get morning sun. So should I rotate it?  Just off camera is a table that my cat is sitting on. He eats any plant he can reach. (They say it’s good for cats to eat grass and things like that but my cat doesn’t get to go outside, so he has to content himself with unattended herbs and houseplants.) I feel a little bit like the Little Prince with his sheep—how do I protect the tomato plant? Also, aren’t tomato plants poisonous? What’s all that deadly nightshade stuff about?

Anyway, it feels good to be growing stuff. Parsley and basil will be next, but they’ll be ON the table—much more accessible to the cat. My utter ineptitude at growing anything made this recent New York Times article even more unsettling: It basically says tomatoes are best grown upside-down. Well, gee. That would probably solve the cat problem, if I could figure out what they’re talking about. I suppose upside-down growing makes the prospect of farming on spaceships more promising?

Tricycle‘s longest-running columnist, Wendy Johnson, wrote about the colorfully named Radiator Charlie’s Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes, which really exist, in a recent issue of Tricycle. You can buy the seeds online. (I don’t know what kind of seeds mine are—they were given to me and I thought it would be rude to ask.) Wendy Johnson knows a lot about growing tomatoes, and so does the blogging monk Daishin, a student of Dogo Barry Graham’s, in Phoenix. Daishin’s blog, sour wine & tomatoes, sounds like it could be a big help to me—I’m going to need it.

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