When my parents were here my father cleaned up our balcony 'garden' and got our tomatoes going. They're the sort of visitors who need to be given tasks or else they'll take over the washing up and put everything away in the wrong place. It was a lovely visit, but I did feel as though I spent four days running interference to prevent them doing the washing up and putting everything away in the wrong place. Unsuccessfully. We're still finding things where they don't belong.
But the tomatoes weren't just busy work; I needed a very belated tutorial. My father is a helluva gardener. When we lived out in the sticks - the proper Canadian swampy tree-y deer-filled bear-roaming granite-strewn sticks, like, the proper Shania-Twain type sticks, the man had trucks of dirt brought in and constructed terraces in our rocky front yard over about half an acre. Single-handedly, as women were not encouraged to garden food in my household, and from memory my brothers tended to be too busy chasing pussy and dropping acid to help out.
His gardens out there were amazing and productive, despite the wild animals that raided them periodically. Same with our house before that, an unexpectedly large suburban corner lot he transformed into a minifundium that could get all six of us a huge chunk of our veg needs; and same, though on a smaller scale, with the house they have now, closer to the lake.
His latest stunt is growing grapes. Okay, they’re Concords, but it is fucking northern Ontario and there are only three fucking months of tolerable warmth a year. The man is a superstar. A superstar who scorns pre-made frames and trellises and paying for help. The visual memory of my childhood is of my father throwing up networks of climbing frames for the tomatoes and beans and peas, made out of big sticks held together with twist ties.
Anyways, I only had to wait until I was 30 to learn from him how to plant tomatoes. And they’re not even tomatoes, they’re tomatilloes, which I’ve never even tried before. But he planted them last Monday and now they’re starting to sprout nicely: