Tomato growing is an occupation fraught with
conversational danger. Just inadvertently mention your under-sized spindly
tomato plants to a tomato enthusiast (and there's thousands of tomato
enthusiasts out there) and you could be stuck for hours listening politely
to every conceivable way of nurturing these smelly plants. And such
strange names too: Big Boy, Supersonic, Tiny Tim, Outdoor Girl,
Money-maker… the list goes on and on.
Apparently Bull's Dung is an excellent medium
for growing tomatoes. Something to do with the testosterone content. It
brings on the 'Toms' a treat. Good grief, what a thought, but undoubtedly
an excellent conversation stopper should you ever need one. And then
there's the tomato-ripening properties of the humble banana. Bananas give
off a barely detectable gas, you see, very subtle and undetectable to the
human nose, a gas that aids tomato ripening. Put the green ones in the
kitchen drawer, on newspaper, and add a banana. That should do the trick.
So there you are, another conversation stopper.
Now let me tell you this. I could win prizes
for my tomatoes if I wanted to. How? Because I know how to grow the best
tomatoes in Scotland, juicy, red and tasty, and probably the best in the
country. But I don't grow the best in the country. Why not? Well read on,
for here comes the ultimate 'conversation stopper' as far as tomatoes go.
Many years ago my Grand-Parents employed the
services of a part-time gardener to help out in the garden. A man called
Tom. He was very good at his job and particularly renowned throughout the
district for his tomatoes. A tomato grower par excellence. Champion
tomatoes they were. Tomatoes with exceedingly good flavour. But strangely
enough the plants themselves were quite spindly, quite poor-looking, and
not really the sort of specimens you would expect to bear good fruit,
though the end product was truly magnificent. Whenever there was a family
gathering Tom's tomatoes were always on the menu, always discussed. "Tasty
Tomatoes, these…..lovely flavour.…prize winning fruits…splendid
texture…..wonderful colour…" and so on. And that's the reason why we
called him 'Tom' when his real name was actually John.
Just recently, and from a very reliable
source, I discovered that Tom had a secret ingredient for growing his
tomatoes and, to be perfectly frank, it put me off tomatoes for
life. Urine. His special ingredient was urine. The house had a septic
tank, you see, emptied once a year, and Tom held on to the top layer to
use as a liquid feed for his tomato plants. He may even have given them a
personal sprinkling himself on the odd occasion too.
So I could grow the best tomatoes in the
country if I wanted to. I really could. No doubt about that. And win
prizes for them too. But I don't fancy the idea, not now. Do you?
(copyright Patrick Vickery 2002)
NOTE from earthlypursuits:
Asians have kept their soil alive, productive and sustaining for
4,000+ years with human waste. (see
Farmers of Forty