An Almanac(K) Item: Six Methods Of Cultivating The Tomatoes, Proscribed And Prescribed
In the interest of Truthful Advertising, I make it my pleasure to offer the occasional item of agricultural or calendrical value in this, my Almanac(k).
Since being ousted as President of these Still United States, I have often thought myself much akin to the stoop-shoulder Ex-General George Washington DC, ignobly cast out by his thankless nation to rot in his Cincinnati. Like Ole Honest Bonecrunch Washington, I too have become something of the gentle man-farmer.
But, lacking the vast wealth, Haitian land-holdings and Necronomic Influences of Our First President, I have refrained from farming men, as was Washington the Ressurectionist's hobby, and have instead taken to the less messy pastime of growing the tomatoes, which have the advantage of coming to fruition much quicker than the man-oaks, yews and zombie-bearing-hemps favored by Washington. Additionally, I currently subsist on a highly limited budget, and tomato plants are easily absconded from my neighbors' porches and stoops, to be secreted in the night back to my little Shed of Wonders.
So, then, with no further adieu, I offer now for you, Gentle Tomato Farming Readership, the cornucopious fruits of my experimental labors.MY BRIEF STUDIES IN THE CULTIVATION OF TOMATOES AND THEIR RESULTS
- Talk-Radio Having heard tell of the hog-fattening potential of talk-radio broadcast listening, I fashioned a soundproof isolation booth from a Steelcase desk drawer, outfitted this with an AM radio, and exposed one of my plants to several weeks of the Air America broadcast program. Under the tutelage of Al o'Franken and Randi of Rhodes ("colossal," indeed) the condition of my little tomatoes worsened precipitously. Therefore, I dramatically changed the programing, shifting towards the olde tyme vaudeville-esque comedy stylings of Hannity & Colmes and the well-reasoned public-policy diatribes of Rushing Limbaugh, but to no avail: Subject 1 finally perished on September the 12.
CONCLUSION: I proscribe this method as lacking efficacy.
- The Mountain's Dew and Cheetoes Observing how well a steady diet of the Cheese-Toes twists and Mountain's Dew beverage had plumped my fellow campaigneers of the "D20 of Destiny" Dungeons and/or Dragons dice-rolling and role-playing-game adventure—much like little piggies going to market—I prepared a clean 2 gallon bucket, placed Subject 2 within, and then filled to the very rim with Mountain's Dew and Chester's original Cheese-Toes comestible snack product. (Sidenote: Do Cheetahs enjoy cheese? Is this why Chester works for the Frito Lay company? I shall make further enquiries.) My little tomato plant was quite attractive there, gently undulating in its incandescently green sea beneath an ever-shifting scrim of orange curls, these steadily dissolving into a vermilion algeal mass. Nonetheless, Subject 2 grew no larger, nor did her fruits ripen. I finally concluded that she had died some weeks earlier, and remained preserved in the antiseptic pool of soda pop. Clearly, that which is good for hog and boy is not good for the noble tomatoe.
CONCLUSION: Method proscribed for the production of foodstuffs, prescribed for the creation of aesthetically pleasing and numinously soothing bio-sculpture.
- Blood Plants, in the general, crave many nutrients both in large and small quantities. Iron is among these, and is a principal constituent to the hemoglobin in the blood of mammals. Learning from the failure to progress observed with Subject 2, I refrained from fully immersing Subject 3, and instead kept it in a soil substrata, this saturated with pork and beef blood drained from thawed, packaged meats. The meats were then discarded, attracting several large stray cats, which were in turn captured and exsanguinated to feed Subject 3's unholy hunger. The discarded cat skins, bones, viscera and muscular tissues have not yet attracted further scavengers. Unfortunately, the iron of pig/beef/kitten blood did not seem sufficient to sustain my tomato plant, which did perish from this earth on or about September 22.
CONCLUSION: Method proscribed for the production of foodstuffs, but prescribed for the creation of aesthetically challenging sculpture similar to the early works of Matthew Barney.
- Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice™ Blood Meal I discovered a yellow plastic package of this fine Miracle-Gro® product in my shed, behind several rotting boards and an ill-framed portrait of clowns. As the packaging explained, this "Meal" contained a number of nutrients, including nitrogen and iron, so as to encourage "more blooms and more vegetables . . . naturally." Additionally, its blood was of a "non-cow source to ensure the highest quality." As I suspected, it was the low-grade cow blood of the grade A ground chuck which had lead to the untimely demise of Subject 3. I cannot overstate the efficacy of just .5 tablespoon of this preparation: Subject 4 produced many fine, round succulent fruits of an alarming, almost scandalous, carmine, much reminiscent of the blood-flushed genitalia of an aroused mollusk.
CONCLUSION: Method prescribed both for food growth and for the distressingly insouciant eroticism of the resulting fruiting bodies.
- Pixie Blessings Pixies have long been renowned both for their fey tricksiness and life-granting—if oft savagely ironic—powers. For Subject 5, I endeavored to attract pixie patronage by crafting and setting in its diminutive shade a tiny dining set, which I outfitted with bottle-cap plates, thimble tankards of ale, a miniature oil-candelabrum and a Kennedy ha'-dollar serving platter upon which I did present a tiny roast mouse stuffed with earthworm dressing. The napkins were linen, and the silverware smelted and cast myself of silver in the light of a harvest moon. Each night for a fortnight I restlessly awaited the pixies' coming, but it was for naught: I saw no pixie at any time. Nonetheless, with each dawn's breaking, I would suddenly take note that the tankards were empty, the dining plates smeared with sauce and grease, and the roast mouse nothing more than a jumble of picked-over bones. Lacking any sustenance, Subject 5 failed by September 17.
CONCLUSION: Inconclusive, though I suspect I was merely cheated by ill-raised, thankless, hoodlum pixies.
- Graveyard Earth Gathered at the Midnight Stroke by the Left Hand Having learned from the informative packaging of the Miracle-Gro® Organic Choice™ Blood Meal that nitrogen is another key nutrient to foster the growth of healthy bones in your plant-stock, and knowing from painful personal experience—and my study of the agri-biographies of Washington the Ressurectionist—that graveyard dirt is especially high in nitrogen, I therefore repotted Subject 6 entirely in dirt from a long-neglected cemetery in the city of Detroit—gathered with the aid of Ivan after promise of inebriation, for I, being radially symmetrical, have no "left hand" with which to gather. She grew sturdy and rigid, yet pale, and the fruits she put forth, though few, were each round and full, but dim of hue and nearly weightless. At intervals the plant would shudder violently, as though gripped by an unseen hand and shaken. Her flowers would bud and bloom in an hour's time, then fall away and scutter off, slipping through chinks in the shed's walls and destined for points unknown. In the small hours of the morning these fruits sing songs, hushed, ululating, reverberant dirges, lilting like an Irish lullaby brought on the back of a long-travelling breeze, or the last, curséd utterances of a since forgotten native tongue. I plucked one of the fruits and split it in twain, feeding these to two squirrels. The first attained the power of levitation, and then spoke in a Haitian/French pidgin, reciting a Petrarchan sonnet of his own devising. The second spun in ever tightening and accelerating circles, until his feet became singed and he expired.
CONCLUSION: Method prescribed. Fruits to be treated with caution.
Would that my tale ended here. But, as is so oft to my enduring shame, it does not. On Sunday, as I stood in my dooryard, considering a squirrel's arboreal progress clinging to the larger half of a Dunkin Dough-Nut, I heard Trael call to me from the asphalt of the thoroughfare.
"You stole my tomato plants, Mr. President Squid," he said, evenly.
"THAT IS A RIDICULOUS ACCUSATION," I said broadly, scuttling left to block Trael's view through the door of my shed.
"I'd like them back, please. I was growing 'em from seeds I got from the tomato off my Whopper I had at the end of last school year."
I shifted my eyes evasively, "I HAVE NOT EVEN THE BEGINNING—"
"I was doing it for a science project."
"I SHOULD LIKE TO HAVE YOU KNOW—"
"To see if they'd grow, even from food. And they were. And then they disappeared. And then you stole Donny's mom's meat from her chest freezer in her shed, and then you killed those cats, the ones with the tiger stripes that were brother and sister and had babies together anyway, and the one baby had no eyes. That was before you came here."
I looked down to the ground, looked at the scuffed leather of Trael's little basket baller shoes. There was a broad strip of silver tape wrapped around the toe of the left shoe, whose sole had separated. It was like the snout of a muzzled dog. "I REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR TOMATO PLANTS, THEY ARE, FOR THE MOST PART, DEAD." I looked to his eyes, "BUT YOU WILL BE PLEASED TO KNOW THAT THEY GAVE THEIR LAST FULL MEASURE IN THE NAME OF RESEARCH AND ERUDITION."
"Can I have the ones that aren't dead."
We looked at each other. The squirrel had struggled and finally found victory, wrestling his dough-nut into his hidey hole. No birds sang in the trees. I shifted my weight and ducked in though the shed door, and brought out Subject 6.
"THIS IS SUBJECT 6," I said, daintily handing the plant out to the boy, "I AM AFRAID THAT, HAVING BEEN SUSTAINED ON THE SOIL OF HUMAN CEMETERIES, IT IS LIKELY HAUNTED BY YOUR ANCESTORS. I WOULD IMAGINE THAT THIS CONSTITUTES SOME SORT OF CURSE. YOU MAY DESIRE TO CONTRACT SHINTOS TO APPEASE THE SPIRITS."
Trael gazed upon Subject 6, upon her last pale yellow astrid blossom, and her strange fruit.
"IF THAT DISTRESSES YOU, I CAN KEEP THE PLANT." I offered.
He took the plant from my manipulator's grip, holding the blue coffee can with just the tips of his tiny, immaculate fingers, keeping his clean pink palms far from the can's sides.
"One time," he said, looking upon the plant and not at me, "I seen a ghost."
"WAS THIS UPON THE INTERNETS?" I asked.
He looked up, his eyes black but bright, shimmering across their minsicus, his lips gripped tight and jaw set firm as bedrock, and sniffled mightily with his sinus drip. "No."
Trael turned to return to his non-mobile mobile home, from whose stoop I had stolen the plants several weeks ago.
"TRAEL!" I called after him. He turned. "WHY DID YOU NOT EAT THE TOMATOE OF YOUR YEAR-END WHOPPER? THAT FROM WHICH YOU PRESERVED THE SEEDS OF THESE PLANTS' NATIVITY?"
"I don't like tomatoes," he answered. He stood, staring at me over the top of his healthy, curséd plant. The plant's fruits were large and round, and appeared as they should be quite heavy, easily heavy enough to drop from the vine, but instead they hung in the air, almost weightless, like helium balloons invisibly tethered.
His eyes were large and round, white with black to the center, and I had the distinct impression of looking into twin wells, which attached to subterranean tunnels, which were bisected and joined by a network of subway trains, which were themselves capable of going sideways through time and to any local, sidereal or terrestrial, but knew not why, nor for what reason, nor what it could all ever mean. They were the eyes of a goat looking knowingly and with neither curiosity nor wonder at the farmer, himself impaled on his own pitchfork by outrageous fortune and gasping his last, full of "why me?" desperation.
This boy who give his time and toil to raise from the edge of death itself plants that he abhorred. To do this just for the science of it . . . I looked into the twin tunnels of his eyes and saw my own domed carapace reflected back. And in that domed carapace I saw both the soul-nourished plant Trael was gripping and the plants sprouting, drowning and dying in my Shed of Wonders and in that moment I felt the walls between our species fall like ink settling from our mutual waters.
It then dawned on me that if I could but harvest the Ink of that Unseparation, gather it and dry it and sprinkle it upon the soils, I would raise a deathless and undead crop of tomatoes which might haunt the minds of this Nation for Ever.