Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Just doing my part to give the last Facebook holdouts one more reason to join

First up, a few updates, because giving you even more information about things you probably weren't riveted by the first time sounds like an excellent idea, no? Some people tell worthwhile, NEW stories! That is not how I roll.

So, shockingly, I have yet to hear anything from the charming Josh Ritter, despite how many times I included his name in that last post for the Google-bots to find. I did not even see any Ritter-related search activity in my referrals list this week. It seems I have overestimated the appeal that vanity-Googling holds for celebrities. Maybe stars really aren't just like us after all.

While Josh Ritter hasn't found his way to my blog in search of a new girlfriend, however, it seems other people think I may be some sort of authority on celebrity relationships. (Hint: I am not.) I do not know if Martin Zellar is still married, nor do I have any idea if Alanis Morissette and Jim Creegan have been romantically linked. (I do know they are both Canadian, but nobody is Googling that today.) I hope those particular searchers found what they were looking for, because I am certain they did not find it here.

In other news, I am pleased to report that the dead squirrel count, for now, still rests at two. I remain suspicious, however, as does my neighbor, who is just as baffled as I am why two squirrels would go belly-up within a ten-foot radius of one another in the same month. His first theory was that some plant in his yard might be poisoning them. This is not the first time he's proven to be a more rational thinker than I am, because my first theory was that my yard is, for some reason, the squirrel population's answer to Topper's House. Poor, down-on-their luck squirrels are coming from all corners of the neighborhood just to off themselves in my yard. Why? I cannot say. But in lieu of my sprinkling squirrel-sized portions of Prozac in the vicinity, I do hope they find an alternate suicide spot soon.

I realize this is an unlikely explanation, of course, but it is no more absurd than the one I came up with the following day. Looking out my kitchen window, I noticed that the rabbit who lives in my yard was eyeing a squirrel with more focused malevolence than seemed normal or warranted, and I decided perhaps Thumper (as the elderly woman next door calls him) was to blame for the squirrel carnage. It's probably ridiculous to theorize that a descendant of the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog might be living in my backyard, but that explanation would help me feel a bit less guilty about occasionally wanting to pour cement into the two large holes he's dug in my lawn.

Next up, more about my yard. Or rather, the things growing in and near it. (Wait! Where are you going?? I need your help here!) Do you remember how excited I was when I saw little green balls of promise pop up on the tomato plants I bought? I should have known it would not be that easy. Given that nearly every plant that's ever been entrusted to me has at least half-withered under my care, it should have been obvious that my optimism about those tomatoes was entirely premature. Look at my sad tomato plants now! The leaves at the bottom keep turning yellow! The leaves at the top have all but disappeared! People, what has happened to my tomato-related hopes and dreams?!

I have asked my friend Google what causes yellowing of tomato plant leaves, and shockingly, Google was of exactly zero help. Yellow leaves could mean that I am overwatering or that I am underwatering. They could be a sign that the soil doesn't have enough nitrogen, or enough calcium, or that my poor plants have fallen to some insect or disease.

Surely several of you know more about gardening than I do. Tell me, how do I know which is to blame?!? With all of those options, I have no clue how to troubleshoot. I feel like Rick Moranis in Little Shop of Horrors, pleading in song for sickly little Audrey 2 to grow. (Come on, you remember that one: "I've tried you in levels of moisture from desert to mud! I've given you grow-lights and mineral supplements; what do you want from me, blood?!?") I do want results from these tomato plants, but at what price? I draw the line at opening a vein for them.

Of course, with that thought, it suddenly occurs to me that my tomato plants are actually rather close to where the last squirrel was attacked. Maybe these tomato plants ARE blood thirsty. That would solve two mysteries in one! My sometimes flimsy grasp on reality hasn't failed me entirely, however. So who has a more likely explanation for me?

And finally, on a happier, more pleasant note, I am a winner! A few weeks ago, I entered a contest that my favorite liquor store held on their Facebook page. Their fans were to each leave a comment saying what they love about the store, and there would later be a drawing to award someone a free case of Chardonnay. This afternoon, I received an email from the store. Hurrah; I WON! Whee! Ideally, the prize would be a case of Folie à Deux Menage a Trois Red rather than Finnegan's Lake Chardonnay, but winners can't be choosers, after all. (Wait. That's not how the saying goes...) So I will have to have a Chardonnay party. Or, perhaps, all of my friends will be getting Chardonnay for Christmas. Or, you know, I could just accept that it is summer and be a more frequent friend to whites. In any case, there is a lesson here: lead with your strengths and stick with what you know. My gardening attempts = epic fail. With liquor (and Facebook), I win!


steve said...

Coincidentally, I'm reading A Long Way Down right now - I'm pullin' for Topper House style suicide as the cause of the squirrel deaths. Much more interesting than some weird plant poison.

-R- said...


My mom discovered that her water was bad for her plants, so she now waters her tomato plants with either the outside garden hose (for some reason that water is ok) or distilled water. If you use water from your sink to water your plants, you could try that.

-R- said...

I also wanted to tell you, but forgot, but all of my knowledge about Little Shop of Horrors comes from an episode of Head of the Class.

Shelly said...

Monty Python AND Little Shop of Horrors references in one post?! I think I love you. I have no advice on your tomato plants, but winning a case of wine rocks!

Jess said...

Maybe a cat is killing the squirrels and has selected your yard as the storage place? Montana would love to kill squirrels but she hasn't gotten one yet. Although she has gotten very close.

Whiskeymarie said...

I use Jobe's tomato fertilizer thingys in mine, and it seems to do the trick. They're these gray stick things that you just jam in the soil around the plant- I got them at Menard's.

Yours look under-watered, to me. I've had to REALLY water mine every day, sometimes twice a day to keep them healthy. And, to help between waterings, I took an empty wine bottle, filled it with water, then stuck one in each pot at an angle- it releases slowly and helps keep the roots moist. I think you can save them still- mine have bounced back from worse.

Good luck and congrats on the wine!

Allie said...

I am so not the tomato expert. I either luck out or I don't.

Free booze on Facebook? That's so cool.

Sauntering Soul said...

Looking at your tomato plant photo reminds me of why I wisely decided not to even attempt them this year. In the past four years I have eaten exactly one tomato from my backyard.

I very rarely drink alcohol, but when I do, Menage a Trois Red is my choice. Good stuff!

Stefanie said...

Steve--I saw somewhere (Flickr, maybe??) that you were reading that. I was wondering if the liner notes on your MN Music CD partially inspired that. :-)

R--Weird; it would never occur to me that the water for the outside hose would be any different from the water inside! Was the difference that she had a water softener or something?? And I remember that episode! Too funny.

Shelly--I will confess that I had to Google that to learn the rabbit's name. You'd be surprised how many hits there are for "Monty Python killer rabbit." On second thought, no, you probably wouldn't be.

Jess--If a cat is killing squirrels in my yard, it should at least have the decency to drag the trophy home! Actually, I was hoping a neighborhood cat would do just that (whether they were responsible for the death or not), but no such luck. (The crows did mostly take care of it, though. Ew.)

WM--I thought underwatering was more likely, too (as the top of the soil is always pretty dry when I water), but my neighbor thought otherwise. Thanks for the tips. I will look for those fertilizer things!

Allie--I know, right? I am convinced Facebook is totally worthwhile. :-)

SS--Good stuff indeed. Too good for "very rarely"! :-)

Courtney said...

Free wine! Well, if your tomatoes die, at least you'll be able to drown your sorrows free of charge.

lizgwiz said...

My father, who grew up on a farm, always tells me that overwatering kills more tomatoes than anything else. For whatever that's worth. But he did, as I said, grow up on a farm, so I tend to bow to his judgment on agricultural issues. That, and car repair issues. And house repair issues. And certain medical issues. But never on political issues! (He's a Republican.)

NGS said...

Apparently tomatoes take a LOT of water? I have no actual plants myself except for an out of control spider plant that gets little more than a pat every other week, but I was cat sitting for like a million years and part of my $10 a day was watering their plants. Those tomatoes. I watered them like twice a day. It was insane. So. That's that. Maybe?

3carnations said...

We have a great garden, but don't know much about plant diseases. Otherwise, our pumpkin plants wouldn't have developed a problem for the second year straight.

Oh, and even for a case of wine? I won't join Facebook.

Stefanie said...

Courtney--That is an excellent point, yo. Chardonnay probably isn't the best wine with tomatoes anyway!

Liz--Well, he can't know EVERYTHING, right? Nobody's perfect. :-)

NGS--I've been watering them less this week, and I think they look even worse. I was thinking my neighbor (and Liz's dad, too) were right, but now I'm leaning towards agreeing with you and Whiskey.

3Cs--Actually, I think what will finally make you join Facebook is the chance to use it to sell Avon. ;-)

flurrious said...

I think your tomatoes need more fertilizer. Plants in pots tend to need more than plants in the ground. And I second the comment about tomatoes needing a lot of water. I soak mine every day, and by the next day, they're bone dry even though other parts of the garden might still be damp.