Thursday, August 28, 2008

Feed me, Seymour!

My tomatoes love Miracle-Gro! This feels a little like saying "My kids love Big Macs!" (if, you know, I had kids.) But what can I say? I have two tomato plants--Stupice and some kind of cold-loving Russian heirloom cherry--stuck in a couple of pots on the back patio, bought in a fit of farm-longing outside Cole Hardware on Mission Street. There was a big bag of potting soil under the steps behind my house, so I filled up a couple of containers and stuck my little plants in. And there they stayed, stunted and unhappy, doing absolutely nothing. I knew they were sadly in need of some NPK (no new growth, curled-looking yellowish-purple leaves, general ennui), but what to do? The soil was in place, and you can't really amend junky potting soil once it's already in the pot around the plant. So, yes, I copped a quick cheap fix: a spoonful of the blue stuff, dissolved in water, poured over the leaves (foliar feeding!) and into the soil.

Better living through petrochemical byproducts! Just like cake-mix cakes always rise and look perfect, damned if my tomatoes aren't 10x healthier looking just a few days later. They're green, they're growing, they look fat and sassy and they actually have tomatoes on them. And they're looking at me as if they just got a hamburger after two months of olives and soy milk. What were you thinking, they seem to be saying. We needed food! Bad enough you put us out here, with the cold and fog and whiteflies. Then you put us on some no-nitrogen starvation diet?

Of course, they're supposed to get their food from the soil,if it were any good, which clearly it wasn't. I can't blame them; soil is a living thing, and if you leave it in a plastic bag under the porch for years on end, it's not going to be worth much more than the plastic it came in. If I had a real garden, I'd be composting and fish-emulsioning and mulching til the cows came home (yoo-hooo! Bessieeee!!). But for two pots on the concrete, the M-G will have to do.

There are all kinds of metaphors in here, but I'm too written-out to delve into them. Plus, there's the Cupcake Dilemma: in a whimsical moment, I promised my pals M.& D. that I'd make them a wedding cake when they could finally get married legally here (They're longtime gay-marriage activists, and already been been married several times to each other, but we're hoping this time will stay on the books). Now, this promise has morphed into a request for cupcakes for 150. Especially tricky since I'm going to be at Slow Food on Sat and down in Santa Cruz with P. and her family, watching Shakespeare, on Sunday. Which leaves today, tomorrow, and the freezer. I have absolutely no idea how this is going to happen. I'm actually thinking...minicupcakes? Very cute, and well, small! So they could each just get a little dab of icing and sprinkles and be done. We'll see if I can find a million mini-cupcake liners at Safeway.

Also, Arkansas! I'm longing to go back to Eureka Springs, as I've promised to do for a few weeks this sept, but there remains the difficult cash issue. As in, plane tickets=really f'ing expensive these days! Especially going NY-Arkansas, Arkansas-SF. Not sure if I can swing the $700 or so for the plane fare, on top of the $300 or so it will take to stay at the writer's colony for 10 days after my workshops. Seems like a better deal to just come back in a week from NYC on a cheap jetblue fare...ah, what to do.

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