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Excellent Decay

So, this late in the year, I think I will never see my tomatoes make baby tomatoes. The weather is odd in San Francisco, and my apartment gets sad amounts of sun. Both plants are still blooming, here's the bitter irony, they're just not fertilising all that well. I was waiting around to see if maybe the big buds of fall would flower, only to discover yesterday morning that something had snipped most of the nearly ready buds clean off the stalk. A bird, maybe? An overly hungry cat? My cats have never shown interest in the tomatoes before, and they've been flowering prolifically for a good four months now. My kindly neighbour said we should have hope for such things as plants, but my hope is starting to turn into wonderings over whether it is time to pull out the tomatoes and pop in something growable.

While fiddling with my impatience, I have begun turning the container the tomatoes use into a makeshift compost bin. I have always wanted a compost bin. SF has a great household compost collection programme, but there's something to be said about watching your own kitchen scraps decay to help generate your own food. Since I've seen tomatoes grow out of compost bins, I hardly think this hurts the tomatoes any. I've been faithfully tucking away soft vegetable scraps into the rich black potting mix, and have been quite amazed at how effectively the EarthBoxes degrades them. Harder scraps that have made it in, like woody berries from a flower bouquet and decorative leaves add texture and firmness to the soil. Root vegetable peels have a long shelf life in the ground, though this is unsurprising given their native environment. Tomato plant trimmings, for which I now have in abundance, demolish themselves quite quickly. Because the EarthBox is a relatively closed system that retains heat and moisture, and I have stopped most of the openings into which bugs might crawl, there is no perceptible smell to the compost. It's just nice and dark.

The herb box, in comparison, is mostly thriving. I have gotten good sauces, pestos, garnishes and salads out of the Vietnamese mint and basil verde, which in spite of my best trimming skills, insists on being tall rather than ball-shaped. We've had at least a couple of meals from the snow vegetables, and as the weather grows colder, I am ever surprised at how new sprouts emerge. It hasn't exactly put out a genuine adult plant yet, just lots of tasty arugula-sized leaves. The lone carrot survivor has grown peculiarly horizontal to catch what sun we have. I am resisting the urge to dig underground a bit to see if it is turning into carrots, but it has been alive now for about four months. It just looks stunted.

With such rich soil in the tomato box, I do wonder what might grow there next.