Tomato House Continued

tomato houseDoug got the tomato house framed in, and I ordered some dirt to fill it: three cubic yards of half garden soil and half compost, to be delivered by dump truck. When I ordered it, they asked if I wanted it dumped at the top of the driveway or at the bottom. Top? Bottom? On a flat driveway? This was news to me. To avoid confusion I said, the end of the driveway next to the garage. That’s where my dirt was dumped, but of course that’s not where the tomato house is. The tomato house is in the middle of the back yard, about 80 feet away, and dirt is heavy. So we called in Rent-a-Rower.

aging wheelbarrowsRent-a-Rower is a fund raising effort by the University men’s rowing team. These guys are strong. They can be hired to do such things as shoveling three cubic yards of heavy dirt into aging wheelbarrows, rolling it 80 feet, and shoveling it out into a tomato house, without breaking a sweat. I hired two of them and they finished with the dirt so quickly, I had them dig up two giant clumps of zebra grass before time expired, even with a pizza break. I always like to have pizza with them and find out what they’re up to at UM, their majors, their areas of interest. As Doug has said of the undergraduates he teaches, they’re all such nice kids, it gives you hope for the future.

latchstringThe next day Doug started putting up chicken wire, currently at bunny-preventing level, as you see in the photo. There will be another round of chicken wire filling in to block the deer, so he has put a latchstring through the post for me to open the gate when I’m inside. The critters will have to try their luck elsewhere.

luckyThere was also a little dirt left to top up one of the raised beds in the fenced garden. I did some weeding to prepare for that, and found another four leaf clover. A good omen for the garden, for the new tomato venture, for the Rowers, and we hope for the whole world.


Poem: The Haiku Maker

I need to reorganize my poetry pages, so meanwhile I thought I’d put this one here. It’s just been published in one of my favorite magazines, The Briar Cliff Review (2021 Volume 33). 

The Haiku Maker

Go to the bamboo
to learn of the bamboo, said
Basho the master

The thing is itself,
look into its own nature,
metaphor misleads

I pick up these books
of haiku I know you’ve touched,
I know you’ve read them

I learn to breathe in
the seventeen syllables
that you have breathed out

If I say my skin
becomes paper and my heart
ink, I don’t mislead

I go to the things
you love, to learn of your love,
though love is abstract

It has a book’s heft,
the bamboo’s way of bending,
and a skin of words.

Building a Tomato House

dogwoodMy fenced garden was here before I was. It works beautifully for keeping the deer and rabbits out of my zinnias and tomatoes, but it’s clear the trees nearby have grown – a lot – since the garden fence went up. I expect the garden got more hours of sunlight then than it does now. I love the trees and have no desire to cut them back or cut them down, but their shade is impinging on my tomatoes.

new bed 1This is where Doug’s woodworking skills come in. He is constructing a new raised bed for me, out from under the trees, in a spot I picked last summer for its shadelessness. Because it’s out there unprotected, it will need chicken wire all the way up the sides, or at least to above deer-munching height. I’m calling it the Tomato House.

new bed 2Here’s progress so far – the frame laid out, and the posts rising. The door will be on the north side, to avoid losing any southern exposure. Though in Michigan in summer, the sun is wa-a-a-a-a-y high up, north of overhead. I found this confusing for a while, but I’ve gotten used to it. In this photo the tree shadow brushes the edge of the incipient Tomato House, but don’t worry – it’s barely May now. In a couple of weeks the sun will not be doing that any more.

tomato babiesMeanwhile in the upstairs window, the seedlings are trying to bust out. They have to wait. People who’ve lived here for decades say not to plant till Memorial Day, but the latest planting guides say mid-May. I’ll probably split the difference.