Monday’s Musings — Weak Stems


I didn’t know.

I didn’t know that failing to put a fan in the greenhouse would give me weak stems on my tomato plants.

I bought an 8′ x 6′ greenhouse this winter from a warehouse club. I figured it would give me an easier start at gardening this year.

For the last few years, I’ve grown my tomato plants from organic seeds. The process was an eyesore in my family room for a few months … the shelving, the 30 containers, the grow lights… The seed starting was supposed to have been easier with a greenhouse.

I bought the greenhouse figuring the set-up in the basement would give the tomatoes a room of their own, and it would provide an environment where I could increase the heat and humidity to which they were exposed.

I started 30 tomato plants and 15 pepper plants from organic seeds in organic soil, and I put them in the greenhouse. They all grew.

I didn’t know I was supposed to put a fan in the greenhouse to simulate gentle breezes.

All of my tomato plants now have weak stems.

Weak stems weren’t something I dealt with when the seedlings were in the family room. I guess the air from the heat vent nearby was always enough to keep them moving.

My tomatoes are now outdoors getting acclimated to the weather, and they’ll go into the garden this week since the nighttime temps are finally resting in the 60s. They have weak stems, but I’ll plant them deep into the soil, I’ll baby them, and I’ll have expectant hope for them to thrive.

Sometimes I really dislike the winds I have to come up against in my own life. I’m fine with gentle breezes, but the winds … I feel as I could do without them.

Winds…you know:  challenges, problems, frustrations, heartaches.

As much as I don’t like the challenges, they have made me stronger. Without them, I’d probably be weak — much like my tomato stems.

But, I’m not weak; I am strong.
Someone has planted that within me.



Finding Hope in the Weeds

The tomatoes in the garden are coming in. We’ve had a steady supply of these fresh, juicy fruits to eat in our household.

Although our snacking and salad harvest has been good, overall, it was not a good year for tomatoes in this part of the country. Much of the country suffers from summertime droughts, but that was not the case here. It was a cool and wet summer — not what tomato gardeners like. While we’ll still have plenty of tomatoes to eat, the harvest won’t be bountiful enough to freeze and can enough tomato soup, juice, fruit and sauces to get us through the winter.

In mid summer, I found a surprise in my tomato garden. After nearly two weeks of cool, wet weather, I spent a few hours weeding. Weeds love the wet weather, and my garden was full of them! In any case, my surprise was five tomato plants that I hadn’t planted. Fruit that had dropped last year, was tilled into the garden at the end of the season, survived a long winter of snow, made it through the soil being turned numerous times in the early spring, and had missed the May planting, was just starting to spring forth here in July.

I debated on whether or not to pull the plants with the other weeds. I knew it would be tough for them to bear fruit before the fall cold snap since they were so far behind, but I couldn’t bear to pull them out since they had, obviously, worked so hard on their own to survive.

I decided to give them a fighting chance.

Those five tomato plants have done pretty well. The fruit on their vines hasn’t ripened yet (it’s getting late), but there is fruit there waiting and hoping for a late-August heat wave to liven them up. I don’t know if it’ll happen (it might during the day, but it’s our nights that are too cool), but I still can’t bear to give up on them.

How many of us are like that? How many of us have been caught among the weeds with our possibilities going unnoticed? How many of us have survived through a dark season, been tossed and turned about, not been nurtured and cared for, yet we’re still able to bear fruit…good fruit? How many of us bear that fruit hoping that “they” won’t give up on us? How many of us just want a chance?

I know I do.

I’ve gone through seasons — just like you — I’d rather not talk about or share with others…seasons of ugliness I’d rather not remember.

But I’m still here. I’ve fought the weeds around me, and I’m still here.

Those five little tomato plants are still out there in my garden, too, trying to bear ripe fruit.

I’m thankful to those who have given me hope to hold on to along the way; those who have noticed that I’ve got something to offer despite the issues, flaws and imperfections; those who have helped me turn the problems and challenges into possibilities.

I’m going to give those five plants some more time. If their fruit doesn’t get around to ripening, there is always the fried-green-tomato option, right?

The challenges can always be possibilities.