It would be safe to say those three are my favorite summer treats, fresh-picked from my garden plants.
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Tomatoes have some interesting characteristics. If left to themselves, they like to play in the dirt. The branches are not sturdy enough to hold themselves upright. As they grow longer and larger, they droop until they are lying on the ground.
On the ground they are tempting food for bugs, slugs, diseases, and rot. On the ground is not the best place for a tomato to raise its young.
Tomatoes are suckers for suckers. If left to themselves, a sucker branch will grow vigorously from each branch-pit. These suckers suck nutrients from the main stem, eventually weakening the whole plant.
Suckers will masquerade as worthy arms of the mother plant, but they secretly use up the plant energy, and the tomatoes are all smaller and weaker when they mature.
I know what the life-cycle of the tomato plant will be before I put it in my garden. I know about the weakness in the limbs. I know about the disadvantages of the suckers. Before the problems show up, I know they will come.
What to do?
Take care of the problem before it shows up.
All garden stores have tomato cages. I bought some a few years ago. One is put in place as soon as I plant the baby.
Also, I pinch off each sucker before it gets even noticeable to the untrained eye. With my thumb and finger as close to the stem as possible, my thumbnail removes the offending growth.
Neither problem has showed up yet.
But, the solutions are already applied.
If I carelessly wait until the problems are obvious, branches will get broken as I try to pull and push them into the confines of the cage. Suckers will have already weakened the mother plant and the fruit will be stunted.
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In past years I have carefully separated such clusters aand planted each one at the proper distance from its neighbor.
This year I left them as they were and planted the quads in one nest of dirt.
As soon as they were nestled into their new home, I fenced them in using a tomato cage. Four plants, four legs on the cage. The only problem was that the cuke vines will grow longer than the cage is tall.
Eventually, the plants will need additional support. So, this morning I cut several long bamboo stalks and placed them around the outside of the cage.
The plants are only now reaching to the lowest rung of the cage. No vertical growth problem exists.
The solution is in place before the problem exists.
I have done the same with the green bean plants. An 8-foot tee-pee is ready for the growth that will happen.
In each of these situations, the promise is present: growth beyond what is currently seen.
Life is mirrored in the garden experiences.
We can easily compare habits to the planting of seeds and their growth into automatic responses in life.
Habits are planted in our lives through repetition of actions and responses to life events.
If you don’t want them to grow and mature into problems, remove them while they are young.
If it is a desirable habit, shelter it and provide a safe place for it to mature and produce good fruit.
We need habits.
Habits control our lives.
Bad habits, habits that hinder or hurt us, should be weeded out of our lives.
Yes, bad habits can be changed. Can be removed. Can be replaced with good habits.
And we can place protections around ourselves to promote healthy growth. I recently wrote about Core Values. Personal Core Values work as fences or cages allowing us to grow, but within the boundaries of the values system in place in our lives.
Excellence, consistency, patience, leadership, teamwork, joy, integrity, innovation.
These characteristics, these values, are the supports that will keep your work from problems, will keep you flourishing and producing quality work-products (fruit).
Work to develop the solutions – the safeguards – before the problems show up.
When you truly believe you will receive it, you act as if you already have it.
Did this story cause you to reflect on your life or work situation?
Did the story inspire you to work harder toward your dreams?
Write to me about a success that you have worked for and achieved.
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Thank you for reading.