Whitesburg KY

It’s tomato time

Points East

Old timers on Blair Branch, when I was growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s, used to predict that thunder in February was a sure sign that it would frost in May. I can tell you, for sure, that on Charlie Brown Road, we had late night thunder at least three times during February, so loud and rumbling that it shook the house and woke me up. Then, on each occasion, it kept on thundering for another few minutes to make sure I knew what was going on.

For that reason, I was not in any big hurry to commence starting tomato plants and finally got about six dozen peat pots seeded with 10 varieties of heirloom tomatoes on April 6. As of early morning, April 18, three tiny seedlings had popped up overnight. I’m not counting any chickens before they hatch, but I’m taking this as a good sign. All three babies were from different varieties. So far so good.

I originally planned to start the plants and simply give them away to friends and neighbors who were/are more physically able to raise gardens than it looked like I was going to be. Planting and helping stuff grow is simply in my blood, even if I never see a bite of the end results. However, now that the garden is plowed and double tilled, the chances that some ‘mater plants will find their way into it are vastly improved.

All the seeds I planted this year, with one exception, were saved in the late summer of 2018. I grow a variety I call Molly Helton Sunburst, which I believe is a cross between Old German and Pink Brandywine and has a fruit that is conspicuously larger than either. It has the same deep yellow/purple stripes as an Old German with a taste more like Pink Brandywine. I dug some Molly Helton seeds dated 2012 out of the freezer and at least one of them sprouted last night.

All the 2018 seeds were saved and packaged by my adopted granddaughter, 13-year-old Alyssa Edwards, who lives in Mount Vernon. I saved and Alyssa packaged over 2,000 tiny, plastic, Ziplock seed packets that I mailed to more than 200 readers of this column. I’ve already lost track of the exact number and don’t figure we’ll be doing that again. On the other hand, Alyssa says she is willing and able if the COVID-19 situation makes it possible and the chicks hatch as planned.

I started this particular column at 9 a.m. this morning. It is now 9 p.m. and well over a dozen more seeds have sprouted over the last 12 hours. I’m only good for about one short paragraph per hour and then I need to take a rest. Stay tuned for a ‘mater plant update next week and don’t be in any hurry to get stuff subject to killing frostbite growing in your garden.

In the meantime, here’s this week’s reading recommendation. I first got hooked on Robyn Carr early in 2007 when a colleague at work gave me a copy of Virgin River. I couldn’t lay it down and couldn’t wait for the next title in what promised to be an ongoing series. I found myself checking her website weekly and preordering every title weeks before it was released. The books combine adventure, intrigue, and human drama laced with boy gets girl (or vice versa) romantic themes. I’m addicted to this stuff.

I had purchased five titles in paper at about $20 each before the first Kindle was even on the market. I went on to purchase the remaining 14 titles on Kindle, at less than half the price of print editions, until the series ended in 2012 or thereabouts. Since then I’ve read every novel she has ever published and I’m thinking she has about 50 or more titles, including three other multi-title series.

The Virgin River series is now a Netflix television series. The first season, completed in late 2019, turned out to be as good as the first couple of book titles. Loretta and I keep checking to see when the second season will start but so far Netflix is only promising that it is in production. I figure all the secrecy is designed to simply keep suckers, like me, to keep coming back to the website.

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