August 15, 2016

Tomato Time


The tomato plants have grown to their full size. In many cases, they are a wall of green, sticky foliage, supported by stakes and string. The field is a set of tomato walls, seven feet tall, two feet wide, spaced five feet from the next wall of vines. Walking a tomato field is made difficult by needing to choose which row you are going to look at and realizing that you are committed to walking that row until the field ends – it is not possible to move to the next row in the middle of the field.

The morning is the best time to be with the tomatoes. The top of the vines shoot new growth toward the blue skies. These new vines are mostly vine and not many leaves. These vines are very hairy, and normally, you would not notice this unless you closely examined the vines and brushed your finger over the fuzz that coats all of the vines. In the morning, the light reflects the existence of each of these little hairs in such a fashion that the vines seem to glow with a magic power.

Just below the tops of the tomato vines, the spiders start their webs. They spin a web from the top of one tomato row to the top of the next row. Exactly in the middle of these webs, the spiders sit patiently, waiting for some action. It is common to see a series of webs, one spider to each web, spaced every ten feet down the row. This particular morning, I bent down to line up the spider in the center of the first web to spiders two, three, four and five down the row – It was interesting to notice they were all the same height from the ground and distance from the plants. They must have all gone to the same school.

These spider webs are road blocks down the rows of tomatoes. If you are afraid of spiders, you do not want to be the first person to walk down a tomato row in the morning. I used to be afraid of the little guys and didn’t like getting the webs on me, but it is part of the game. The spiders sit in the middle of the web. Before walking through the web, I give it a courtesy tap, which always sends the spiders scurrying to find refuge in the tomato vine just before I destroy their night’s construction project.

In these vines, our precious tomatoes grow.