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Tomato planting alchemy

Tomato seedlingI like to plant tomatoes when my mind is empty and my heart is full.  When the sun is starting to drop down toward the horizon, and the evening chill is creeping up through the daytime heat.

The spade slides down into crumbly raised bed soil, tipping a divot of dirt to the side.  I sink my fingers into manure and one big scoop hits the hole, followed by a handful of crumbled eggshells to prevent blossom end rot.

I slide plain soil into an indentation in the center of the amendments, slip a tomato seedling down deep, and drench its base with sun-warmed water.  Crumbling soil up to its cotyledons, I imagine the deep roots my tomato will grow along what was once stem.

Last year I planted tomatoes close.  Most raised bed vegetables seem not to mind rubbing shoulders, but my tomatoes glared and sulked.  So this year I've spread them wide, 37 plants in 9 beds.  Nine heirloom varieties to sink our teeth into, dry, freeze, and feed us year-round.

Tomatoes are the only vegetable I'm willing to baby, to coddle.  I imbue them with all of the spiritual strength an athiest can muster.  I almost pray.

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