I have committed tomatocide!


“The best-laid plans o’ mice an’ men gang oft agley.”

                Robert Burns

I am a true testament to Bobby Burns’ poem. I’ll tell you why.

Last December, with a slight case of ennui, I decided to correct my lazy ways and get busy for the spring growing season. Spurred on by a YouTube video on “DYI Grow Light Operation,” I purchased a section of 2” PVC, cut it to proportions, glued the pieces together, added a regular LED bar suspended from an adjustable chain, and voila! I had my own grow light.

I might mention that even with hand tools, I cannot cut a straight line. With electric devices, I am dangerous to a fault. That’s one of the reasons I love gardening. I can cover a multitude of sins with mulch. Crooked cuts are a different story.

I was proud of my work, and my wife, who has forbidden me to use any electric tools to cut, shape, or build anything, under pain of bodily harm, actually approved of my handiwork. (I secretly used a circular saw to cut the PVC, but what she doesn’t know won’t hurt me – unless she reads this post or one of you tells her about it. Please be discreet.)

Well, in January, I planted about 30 tomato seeds bought from Johnny’s Seeds. I like Johnny’s Seeds because they’re quality products and the company is owned by the employees – another plus in my mind. I also put in some eggplant and cayenne pepper seeds.

A word about cayennes. The etymology of the word is uncertain. Some believe it came from the Old Tupi language in Brazil, while others believe it originated from Guiana – as in French Guiana. Some, however, say that French Guiana was named after the pepper, so I suppose it comes to which came first, the chicken or the pepper, to mix metaphors.

But I digress.

I keep a spray bottle of rainwater (collected from my rain barrels) infused with Ocean Harvest, a liquid organic fertilizer made of fish emulsion, kelp, and other ingredients. This I use to fertilize my burgeoning seedlings.     

It is also my habit to keep a spray bottle of bleach on my shelf to sterilize my pruners, my knife, and any other tool that might need disinfecting.

Both are clearly labeled, and I keep them in separate locations…usually. I think you can guess where this is going.

Arriving home late one evening after giving a gardening talk a couple of hours drive away, exhausted and hungry, I first went to spray my little seedlings, now about four inches tall, with my bottle of nutrients.  The garage was dark, except for the grow light. I reached for the bottle of fertilizer and began to spray my little children.

Fish emulsion has a distinctive odor.  I realized though that the liquid I was spraying on my little darlings did not smell like fish emulsion. Instead, it had a distinct aroma of bleach. Unfortunately, I realized that I had just doused the seedlings with a liberal spraying of bleach.

How I grabbed the bleach instead of the fish emulsion, I have no idea. Perhaps my brain synapses malfunctioned since both of the bottles were clearly labeled. Maybe I wasn’t thinking. More likely, it was due to my short attention span and sometimes muddled thinking.

Anyway, all my babies died, and I am guilty of tomatocide, as well as peppercide and eggplanticide. Perhaps the Great Solanaceae God will forgive me for my lapse in judgment. Although I hope this is true, I think I noticed some angry looks from other members of that family, especially from the Brugmansia, night-blooming jasmine, and datura growing in my backyard. Should I lock my bedroom door?

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