First Posted: 1/15/2009
My wife and I made an important decision about eight weeks ago. We decided to adopt. Triplets, even.
Actually, it's something we've attempted for the previous two years, but with only marginal success. This time, everything went like clockwork and the results have been fabulous. Well, comparatively fabulous, anyway.
Back in early April, we once again began looking at our options. We spoke with a few key people, asked about cost, considered the experiences we'd already had and gauged whether we should give it all one more try.
Finally, we decided it was worth it.
So the first thing we did was to prepare a bed - complete with several sessions of tilling, pulling unwanted weeds and adding a few bags of special plant food-enriched soil.
Oh, did I mention that the adoptions we made were a trio of tomato plants?
Anyway, once the bed where these plants would be raised was finished, we made our trek to the “adoption agency” that we'd so carefully chosen. This one was in Florence, S.C., at a large flea market. Having tried locally grown plants the last two years - each with terrible results - we remained skeptical as we made our way down Interstate 95 to meet our newest adoptions.
Once there, it took us a while to navigate through all of the booths filled with bootleg movie DVDs, stacks of baggy jeans, cases of oversized jewelry and rows upon rows of knives and swords on display before we finally found the right spot.
But when we did, we knew these babies were different than what we'd dealt with before.
Right there, sitting on the ground, were a dozen or so healthy looking tomato plants just waiting to be picked up.
The man in charge gave us a price that we each cringed at silently - then he gave us a deal on taking three, and we jumped.
That's when we were left to decide which three we wanted.
I bet we stood there examining those 12 tomato plants for about 5 minutes before we came to a conclusion. We picked out one plant. Then we stepped back and looked again. And picked another. Back we stepped, stared … stared some more, and finally chose our last one.
As we walked away with our three adoptions in tow, we began second-guessing ourselves. Had we chosen the healthiest? Had we broken up a set somehow? Would these be better than the ones we'd tried over the last two years? Was our failure the last two springs our fault? Were we bad plant parents?
We loaded our plants into the back seat and brought them back to Lumberton, immediately introducing them to their new home and getting them carefully settled into the freshly prepared bed they would share with lettuce, peppers, cucumbers and squash. We soaked them with water and then held our collective breath.
The next day, we saw no wilting and we rejoiced.
One week later, we found buds forming and we jumped got giddy.
Three weeks later, actual tomatoes had begin to grow and, without our neighbors seeing, we danced in the street.
Last weekend, about two months after bringing our little darlings home, we found that one of them had produced a beautiful red tomato about the size of a baseball. We were extremely proud.
But then tragedy struck our little family.
When I bent down and reached into the plant to pick our first-born, we found that something had gotten there first. Birds, apparently, had found our treasure and had begun feasting on it. One side of our baby already had been eaten. We were heartbroken.
It's tough dealing with the loss of something that was so dear, especially so young and after so much effort had been made to make its life possible. But we have recovered, and there have since been a few others who have come along to give us hope.
And we have begun to outsmart the thieving neighborhood birds by picking our produce at the pink-orange stage. Now, we have nice red tomatoes on the counter awaiting their rightful place on a sandwich.
Our triplets are doing well.
– W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 739-4322, Ext. 148, or by e-mail at [email protected].