“Now remember, keep them warm and feed them regularly.”
You would be forgiven for thinking that I was issuing instruction for the care of a couple of newborn babes. But, no. This is actually my Mother-in-Law issuing instructions for the latest additions to the Life of Ryrie.
What are the latest additions? Well. We haven’t been given a cute kitten or a bouncy puppy or even useful chickens. We have been given tomato plants. Yep, you hear me right, tomato plants.
We brought these little green seedlings into the house on Saturday afternoon, and the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that began with the innocuous question: “would you like to take one and grow them yourselves?” hasn’t abated in the least.
The weight of responsibility is driving my shoulders to the floor. Every time I glimpse the hairy stems I shudder in fear. The bright green leaves – the tangy, sharp scent bringing back memories of my own Nanny’s sunny back room – are prompting me to avert my eyes from the window sill on which they sit and instead stare at the compost bin by the side of the sink.
Oh God. I seriously cannot kill these plants.
Let’s face it we all knew that when my Mother-in-Law gave these defenceless seedlings to my children that it would be me who would be watering them, feeding them, transferring them outside (once risk of frost has passed). We all know it will be me that, should the plants fail to grow into strong, fruit bearing tomato bushes (is that what they turn into?), we all know that it will be my fault. It will be my fault because I won’t have reminded the children to water them, or feed them or I will have put them outside in a cold position which, with this currently freakish Spring weather, will more than likely frost on, just to spite me, in June.
Man, oh man. Of all the things. Tomato plants.
I have attempted to absolve all responsibility by having a stern talk
at with the children, explaining that Nana gave them the plants. That she had already spent time, money and emotional effort in nurturing the seeds into seedlings. That it was up to them to look after the plants. That they were the ones that needed to follow Nana’s instructions.
No matter how much they nodded their heads in agreement with my words, I knew that even they knew that the success of this undertaking would actually fall to me. Indeed here we are five days into the care of said plants and the children have barely glanced at them. I, however, am checking on them every five minutes. (I am sure one of the leaves is looking a bit yellow already). It is me that is pressing my finger into the soil to check its moisture content and it’s me that is then standing there debating for a full twenty minutes whether it needs a little more water or not. (Can you over water tomato plants? is that why there is a yellow tinge on the leaf?).
I would compare this feeling of helpless ignorance and panic to that felt as mother to a new born. Except I can’t, because my early days of motherhood were actually spent in some kind of adrenaline and fatigue fuelled haze. So these feelings are totally alien to me. The impending doom that I feel is just around the corner, when the plants shrivel to nothing and die, and then the thought of that awful phone call I will have to make to tell Nana that sadly the plants did not survive. Oh, it is all just so torturous.
If you have any wisdom on how I might be able to save these little tomato plants from meeting an untimely end I would appreciate you sharing it with me…. please….