The War on Tomatoes

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Friends, the state of Colorado is trying to murder my tomato plants. And it has almost succeeded.

I’ve been bursting at the seams to garden this spring. April was a gorgeous month: sunny, hot, all the spring flowers blooming. I bought pepper and tomato plants and lovingly nurtured them in our hothouse (read: a table by the south-facing egress window downstairs). I collected my seeds. I composted and tilled the garden soil.

Our “safe planting date” (HAH!) for this climate zone is May 15th. But a week before that I looked at the forecast, saw blue skies far into the future, and decided to jump the gun. I transplanted all my little plantlings and lovingly folded my seeds into the ground. It looked beautiful.

It lasted barely 24 hours.

Because then the hail came. And not just any hail! Baseball-sized ice rocks, hurtling out of the sky like they were launched from the trebuchets of cloud-dwelling giants. Every window on the West side of the house was smashed. The roof was ruined. Ben’s car was totaled. The trim and siding took a major beating. Our beloved maples and fruit trees were practically stripped.

And the garden was demolished. The hail tore the sun shades right off their PVC pipe frames. When it was all over, you couldn’t even tell where the pepper plants used to be. The only shade to stay up was over the tomatoes, but it was full of holes and we still lost two of the five plants. Most of my seeds likely washed away.

A view of the carnage:

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Ok, fine, lesson learn. I mocked the gods with my hubris and paid the price. So a week later I planted again. Ah, beautiful! Here’s a before and after:

image1 (2)  image1 (1)

And that lasted five days before the forecast spelled my doom once more. Snow and freezing rain, headed right for us.

Determined not to lose my leafy beauties again, I launched into action! I watered the beds thoroughly, to act as insulation against the cold (counterintuitive, but that’s how it works). I pulled the large-bulbed string lights down from around the patio and laid them around the perimeter of each bed to generate a little heat. Then I covered each garden bed with the plastic sheeting we’ve used in the past for emergency makeshift greenhouse purposes. I weighed down the edges with bricks and hoped for the best.

Then, I plugged the lights in:

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(See my Facebook for the actual video. I’m too cheap to upgrade my WordPress account to host videos.)

When I woke up this morning we had freezing rain. Within twenty minutes it was wet, heavy, cold snow. Miserable. But my plants are safely tucked into the heated greenhouses I MacGuyvered for them. And with any luck the snow will be over by Saturday and I can once more open them up to the sun!

The weather has tried to take my garden twice now. I’ll be damned if I let it win!

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