Saturday, June 01, 2013

Beautiful Ugly

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This month's blog circle theme is Beautiful Ugly.  Most months I don't even start thinking about what to do until at least half way into the month, but this month within the first week of May, I knew EXACTLY what I was going to write about. 

Bart and I LOVE to garden.  Last year we even started some tomato and pepper plants from seed indoors.  They worked out so well we did it again this year.  We had about 12 Tomato plants growing under grow lights when we went to California to visit my parents for Easter.  While we were there, we went to Tomatomania  for the first time.  I was excited to go and see what kind of tomatoes they had, but I knew it was still to early to plant tomatoes in Utah.

Since the house we moved into didn't have a vegetable garden plot, Bart and I decided we were going to build our own raised beds for our garden this year.  One of our good friends in Spanish Fork had always started her tomatoes and peppers really early and protected them from the cold with a cover made out of plastic and PVC pipe.  I thought if we decided to get two or three plants to try out, we could build a similar cover and see if we could really start the plants a month early, and if it didn't work out it wouldn't be so bad because we had so many plants inside.  Well, while we were at Tomatomania, Bart caught the mania.  I think if I had let him he would have purchased every single one of the hundred-and-some-odd different varieties of tomatoes they had there.  In the end we came home with TWELVE more tomato plants!

We rapidly built our bed and cover and planted them within days of coming home.  We anxiously checked our phones every night to see if there would be a hard freeze.  There was one week where it was going to get down to 25.  Thus far they had survived a 30 degree dip in the covers, but 25 made us nervous, so we bought a little space heater to put in the beds that night.  It worked like a charm.  By the end of April, our plants had been in the ground for nearly a month and were really thriving.

The last week in April, the weather had been amazing.  It was getting into the 60s and even 70s during the day, and only getting down to the 40s at night, it was great.  On the night of April 30, I checked the weather app on my phone and saw that it was going to get down to 37.  We had put all but 5 of our inside tomatoes out there to harden off a few days earlier, but with the covers 37 was plenty high, we wouldn't need the heater that night.

I listened to the wind howling all night and was very grateful for my cozy bed.  The next morning was really busy, and it was nearly noon before I had a chance to head out to the garden.  I hurried out, worrying that the sun might be baking the plants since I didn't come out to open up the plastic earlier (it was literally that hot).  When I pulled the plastic back, I couldn't believe my eyes.  All but two of our tomato plants had frozen.  The leaves were all completely black and limp.  I nearly broke into tears.  The temperature hadn't got to freezing, but the wind was so cold it froze all of our tomatoes.

The next few days were really depressing at our house.  Our daily excursion to the garden that had previously brought us so much joy and excitement was replaced by consciously avoiding the garden because we didn't want to be reminded of our foolish mistake that crushed our best-tomato-garden-in-the-neighborhood hopes.  About four days after the frost I finally worked up enough will power to go out and check on the two plants that had survived.  To my surprise, several of the frozen plants had new growth at the bases.  I couldn't believe it.  Over the next week, every single one of the plants that had frozen had sent up new shoots.

We still lost the seedlings that were hardening off outside, but every single one of our Tomatomania plants came completely back!  And let me tell you, when I saw those beautiful green sprouts at the base of those ugly limp plants, I knew exactly what my post this month would be on.

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I am happy to report that all of our Tomatomania plants are not only bigger than they were at the end of April, but they also have blooms on them.  We have planted the few plants that were still indoors and purchased replacements for the ones we lost.  We are once again excited about our tomato garden.  I think it's going to be a great summer!  :)

Our Garden

Now head over to Stacey's blog to see her beautiful Ugly.  


Jen R said...

I love a happy ending. Looking forward to seeing some beautiful tomato pictures in the coming months.

Jen B. said...

That's awesome!

Andrea Kavanagh said...

Brilliant! Can't wait to see more :)

Cat said...

Love the photos and story to go with this! It's a running joke in Calgary that you plant at your peril before the May long weekend :)

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story! I love that you all are passionate about these lovely tomatoes. Gardening is so amazing! I love your image -- the light is so perfect here. It screams new beginnings. How lovely!

Misty said...

I love the story behind your photo. How much sweeter those tomatoes will be after all you've been through.

Anonymous said...

The same thing happened to me last year. So this year I waited until mid April. Love your story and your pictures.

Stacey said...

That's awesome!!