Wednesday, May 25, 2011

My Garden Gate

My garden fence was hastily thrown together the first summer we owned a dog.  It seemed like a good temporary solution nine years ago.  My dad and I built it together, and it's about as attractive as you'd expect it to look given my choice of materials (and also given the fact that my dad and I are the two of the least-handy people in our extended family.  Possibly in all of California.)  It's mostly wire livestock fencing, with a couple of heavy-duty cattle panels on each end and for the gate.  Maybe that should be "gate?"    (If I was talking to you in person, I might make air quote motions with my fingers when I referred to my "gate", so I think it deserves those apostrophes.)  To close the "gate", I wrap a bungie cord around the panel and the metal fence post(if you've read my blog posts about how the chickens got into my garden, the way that happened is probably becoming obvious to you about now!)  Over time, the bungie cords degrade in the sun and break apart.  (The frayed bungie cord pieces hanging on the fence are the ghosts of garden latches past...)

Yesterday morning, I was weeding  (surprise surprise!) when my five year old joined me.  Her visit began with grumbling, 

"Why did you latch the gate so tight, mom?  It's hard to open!"

Before I could explain that I was hoping to keep her baby brother out of the garden, the next thing I heard was her shouting "NO, No!!  Don't!  Don't Touch!"

And then, "Mom, Charlie picked another tomato!"

That would bring the tally of tomatoes that he has picked from my poor Stupice to four.  This one was a lovely, hopeful mix of orange and green, so close to being ripe.  It was even closer than the one he picked over the weekend (On my birthday, no less.  He's merciless.) Anyway, by the time I reached him, the tomato had 8 tiny little tooth marks on it.

After that, I made a decision.  There was one remaining nearly-ripe tomato on the vine.  It was only about the size of a marble, but it was nearly red, with only a couple of green spots left.  It was clear that sitting on my hands and waiting for it to get perfectly ripe was risky business.  The little guy is fast and ruthless, and my state-of-the-art garden fencing is no match for him (at least when his sister opens the gate ahead of him and lets him in.)  I resolved to snap a photo of it on the vine and then pick it, declaring it my earliest homegrown tomato ever.  I even considered photo-shopping it to look a tiny bit more red than it actually was.

This is where I would post that photo if I had it.  Instead, I found absolutely no trace of the tomato when I took my camera out to the garden.


It's gone.

I'm grieving the loss.


  1. I resemble that remark about our mechanical prowess...That's why my yard looks like a holdover from World War I trench warfare. The irrigation project looks so intimidating to get it done so Mom doesn't stand barring the gate when I leave for China.

  2. Oh no. That happened to me last year. The one tomato plant that I had, with the one little tomato it bravely grew.

    Picked by a toddler.

  3. LOL. I have often wished I started up gardening when my son was younger so we could have done it together. Now I don't!

  4. I like the *idea* of gardening with kids... in theory. I think it is great for them to get their hands dirty, play outside and understand where their food comes from. The reality is different. The girls were never physically destructive in my garden -- they usually carried seedlings gingerly or just didn't touch the plants -- but they talk and talk when I'd rather just hear silence (or at least, not have my conversations out in the garden where two or three neighbors can hear every word we say!) With three chatty girls, I guess sometimes I want a break from the talk. The boy is already very different from his sisters. In addition to picking my first tomatoes (which, thankfully, will be FAR from my only tomatoes) he has also damaged or killed countless seedlings in pots, crushed a number of small plants by walking on them, etc. Not cool, little guy. Not cool at all.

  5. From the mother of 3 boys FIRST and then one little girl. .I totally feel your pain!! Curiosity and destruction are TOTALLY testosterone!! If it makes you feel better. .my 8 yr old boy talks as incessently as anyone!! Many quiet garden moments are interrupted by questions demanding answers!! Hang in there. .I'll bet someday, we'll wish for a little chatter!