Sunday, July 20, 2008

Operation Grow Something Part 4: Tomatoes Gone Wild (Too Hot for HGTV)

The porch is doing very well overall, I must say. The garden started in earnest over the last weekend in May, and here it is, about 7 weeks later, and things are looking very green. While my cilantro has indeed given up the ghost, the oregano is firing on all cylinders. The lettuce and spinach have slowed a bit in their growth, but they're still not disappointing. My kung pao pepper plants have sprouted flowers--can peppers be far behind?--and even my basil plant has done well enough that I was able to snip off some leaves and add them to a chicken sandwich last week. Even my ornamentals are thriving, save for a few woolly thymes and little purple flowers that have followed the cilantro across the River Styx.

The tomatoes, I should add, have gone mental.

That's a Grape tomato plant on the left and a Roma on the right. Or maybe I have that backwards. I haven't looked at the little tags lately. At any rate, they've gone feed-me-Seymour out here on the east side. They're at least 30" high now, whereas they are about 8"-10" high on May 30. Wee 'maters have even begun to grow on them.

Guy asked me why I was even growing tomatoes. "You don't really like them," was his comment. "You hardly scoop them onto your tortilla chips when you have salsa."

"True," I replied, "but I just can't think of anything better to grow than tomatoes, especially in containers forty feet in the air. Besides, once the lettuce and spinach take hold, we'll have some badass salads up in here."

Guy grimaced at the thought of forced salad consumption. "Coudn't you find any mac-n-cheese plants at the nursery?"

I shook my head. "They don't do well in containers."

Guy read in the paper today that the average meal on an American table is trucked or shipped about 1,500 miles. Holy flurking snit. I think that's a lot of miles for a tomato, a handful of greens, a breast of chicken. If you build a building according to present LEED standards, credit is given if all your materials to build the building come from less than 500 miles away. How can we make that a standard for buildings but not for our food? Part of taking care of the earth may mean that we don't get Italian marble on our condo building in Denver. It might also mean that we don't get eight kinds of apples in the dead of winter. My industry and the firm at which I'm employed are doing our best to encourage environmentally-conscious design and construction products and practices. While that is to be commended, is it meaningful if I use no-VOC carpet in my designs and then go to the grocery store and buy lettuce from California and apples from New Zealand?

Recently here in Denver, Bike To Work Day was a big success, and it sure got a lot of people out of their cars and onto their bikes or even public transit. In our office, Wanda was in everyone's grill about biking to work, rather gon from being enthusiastic to becoming the Bike Nazi. She got a little in my grill a few days before the event: "Aren't you gonna bike to work on Wednesday?"

I turned to her and looked her in the eye, trying not to glare. "I carpool with my husband every single workday of the year in a car that get 30 mpg in the city on a drive that's less than 3 miles each way," I replied. "And on the weekends, I walk to the grocery store and then to the farmer's market, which is 2 miles each way. I recycle half my garbage, and every light in our hose is a CFL. Every day is Earth Day for Guy and me."

I didn't even mention that I'm growing tomatoes. If Wanda's nice, she can have some when they ripen.


ms. kitty said...

Great post, Pixie! Good going in the green department! Our little new building is going to be extremely green, though not all the way up to the top on the LEED scale. But close.

Miss Kitty said...

Yayz for your 'matoes! If you can grow a bunch of veggies on the "porch," teh awsum...but even more teh awsum would be chickens. Balcony. chickens. Brrrrrk.