It’s time for tomatoes and apples

FILLERS

BY JOHN CULLEN

The outlook for Iowa’s corn and soybean harvest has yet to be determined, but my tomato crop has been good this summer.

I had started to wonder after the past two summers, when I had disappointing yields, but my faith has been restored.

I put in three plants this year: two Early Girl and one Celebrity variety. The Early Girl is so named because it’s supposed to bear fruit earlier than other varieties, and it did, but only a week or two ahead of the larger Celebrity. Early Girl tomatoes are supposed to be about the size of tennis balls, but mine are maybe two-thirds that size. The Celebrity size looks fine.

After last year’s disappointing yield, one experienced tomato grower told me only to water them when they looked like they needed it. He only watered his a couple times a summer. Maybe that was my problem last year. I watered them frequently. Anyway, this year I watered them once, when I planted them, and let Mother Nature take care of them after that. Things seemed to have worked out fine.

I’ve heard that you should place a fish under the tomato as fertilizer at planting time, but I have not done that, nor have I used Miracle-Gro or any other fertilizer and perhaps that affects the yields, but my philosophy is to plant it and forget it. It’s Mother Nature’s job to nurture it.

Tomatoes are the only plants in my garden. Years ago, when the kids were little, we had a larger garden with a variety of vegetables. Of course, the kids promised to weed and water it, and also of course, they didn’t. I didn’t bail them out. The garden was soon overrun to the point that you couldn’t tell the plants from the weeds. I just fired up the mower and took care of that problem. But then I had another problem: two kids and a wife not happy with what I had done to the garden.

You just can’t beat homegrown tomatoes and we have enjoyed bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches often this summer.

Last summer’s dry weather not only affected our tomatoes, it seemed to cause problems with our apple tree too.

The tree has been in our backyard since before we lived there, which is 34 years, and it produces a tasty apple. I’m not sure what variety it is, but it tastes like Honeycrisp, my favorite.

Normally we get a great crop of great tasting apples, but last year not so much.

This year the tree is laden with apples, but they’re not as big as the past and not quite ripe yet. I hope to have a better report in a few more weeks. Mary is good about making apple pies from them.

Side Note: The Delicious apple, probably the best-known variety, was developed in Madison County, Iowa, in 1880 and was originally named the Hawkeye. A nursery bought the rights and renamed it Delicious.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON Mary and I went to Okoboji for a Nutty Bar and cruise on the Queen II. We hadn’t been on the excursion boat for probably 20 years. Again, with the kids, who weren’t impressed at all. They thought it was boring. They’d probably like it better today.

The only down side was when I bought the tickets for the boat ride. The young cashier offered me the senior citizen price without my even asking.

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