A Tomato Grows on Long Island

Long Island was once known as an agricultural hub in the Northeast, with around 3,000 farms taking root during the 1950s. By 2005, that number had dwindled to about 700, but they continue to be some of the most productive in the state of New York. It’s hard to believe with all the suburban sprawl and strip malls in western Suffolk County where I live, but we hide away our farmlands out East where the landscape transforms into wide open fields and beautiful vineyards.

I grew up in a very “green” family, not in the sustainable-eco-friendly sense of the word, but that we grew things and appreciated where our food came from. Every weekend we’d trek from the suburbs out to Edisto Island where there are cows and fields abundant. My uncle Rett is a sixth-generation farmer and his son, my cousin, works with him to learn the business and eventually take it on as his farm.

When we made a visit to their home or “the stand”, better know as King’s Farm Market, we would return with arms full of whatever was in season: tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, strawberries, bouquets of zinnias and gladioluses and my personal favorite, okra. One of my most vivid memories is of my Mom, Nana, great aunts and cousins spending the better part of a late summer Sunday with fresh okra from my uncle’s farm all across my grandparents’ kitchen table to put it up to use all winter. Little did I know how spoiled I was sitting on my Nana’s lap, taking a bite of a fresh, crunchy okra pod and knowing exactly where it came from.

That was a nice little detour, huh? Now back to Yankee territory where I’m fretting over my green thumb. I started a little container garden last weekend as I have no real safe place at my soon-to-be-home to make a real garden. We’ve had weird weather here consisting of warm, cold, wind, rain and fog interchangeably for the past week. Serious oye! My plants were looking well, but started to look a bit wilted and leaves began to bend and fall off after 2 days. I’m told this may be part of the hardening process or under-watering, but time will tell. They certainly got their fill of water last night! Anyway, here’s what you’ve all been waiting for:

IMG_20140428_185119In this planter we have (from bottom to top) leeks, cilantro, green onions and dill. They look a bit windswept in this photo, maybe I should turn them the other way. Current underdog is the dill, it’s seen better days, the poor fella. Cilantro looks strong. I think I may also have some of these guys in a planter too shallow, but I’ll see how they fair in the early stages. If they start getting wild, I’ll have them put into a medium planter. Any suggestions on this topic is greatly appreciated! I think I’d love more dill as well.

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In the medium planters we have (from left to right) jalapenos and bell peppers, two varieties of strawberries (very flooded as of this morning) and rosemary hogging its own pot. Rosemary looks pretty hardy and is definitely leading in this set. The peppers are worrying me with their leaf dropping.

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And now, the heavyweights! From bottom to top, 2 varieties of heirloom tomatoes and 1 cherry tomato, 2 zucchini and 1 eggplant and 2 cucumbers. Really none of these plants look “good” in my definition. The tomatoes maybe look the best, they haven’t dropped any leaves, but are yellowing. The zucchini are really worrying me. Nearly all the leave have dropped or the stems bent in the wind and rain. I pinched any bent limbs or leaves off. The cucumbers also look pretty sad.

Place your bets now on the success of my garden! I’m going to give them a rousing pep talk and hope all this rain has put some “spring” (HAH get it?) into their step. Or growth I should say. Ah whatever.

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