I spent most of yesterday fussing over my tomatoes. I “didn’t get the memo” (from the movie “Batman Begins”) about pruning. As vines towered four feet over my head, I had to channel my inner contortionist to crawl into the jungle and clean up a big pile of limp or shriveled leaves and branches. That’s my hand sticking out (recreated today for effect, haha!). That’s my friend Lettuce (gone to flower) to the left of my hand, and a big clump of sage by my leg. Did I say, don’t plant things so close together?

My poor little orange tree (front, center) has been sandwiched on two sides by a Cherokee Purple Heirloom and a Brandywine. In protest, it has refused to produce a single orange. That’s the big set of vines on right that are leaning farther than the Tower of Pisa. You can see me planting these seedlings in March in Rainy Day in the Garden, episode 4 of “Late Bloomer.” If you don’t prune, I’ve learned, vines become bushy and heavy and those wire tomato cages collapse from the weight.

Recently, I spent a day pounding in stakes to keep them from falling all the way down. The promise of a couple hundred tomatoes urged me on. Here are three of the Cherokee Purple.

Another reason to prune is access. It is so much easier to spot problems. Until I crawled in there yesterday (I had been procrastinating the inevitable), I didn’t realize I had some problems with the Brandywine. My helper for really hard jobs, Rene, drove by and told me this was from a rat. He said squirrels and raccoons don’t like tomatoes.

I asked him if netting would help, and he said that would only keep my neighbors from picking a tomato as they pass on the sidewalk. I intend to hang a sign on the Brandywine, “If you would like a tomato, ring the bell.” I give away a squash almost every day. Next issue, remember those tomato trays in “Rainy Day?” I cut them to pieces and surgically removed them from the stems of my plants as they had overgrown the opening. And, guess what I found.

Slugs, one large and three small. I also found four snails hiding on the bottoms of various leaves. And this, which I suspect is a batch of spider eggs, but, what do I know?

And several rotten Brandywines (that was my only non-organic seedling), hmmmm.

And I’m not sure if this is bugs or disease.

But, the good news is my Green Zebra vines are looking good!

Some branches are really loaded. Which means I spent another hour tying up branches that were in danger of breaking.

I gave away a couple of Patty Pan squash, then rounded up my haul for yesterday.

My first baby watermelon, three different kinds of cucumber, a handful of beans and blackberries and a few tomatoes. The cucumbers, (left to right) A&C Pickling, Bushy, Japanese Climbing, were all a bit bitter and disappointing, even though they looked great on the vines.

The pickling cucumber leaves have taken to wilting in the sun, like the Patty Pan squash.

By evening, they have perked back up. So strange! I thought cucumbers loved the sun. I’m watering them every day, so, it’s not for lack of water, maybe too much?

It’s summer and so much is happening in the garden! Thanks for reading! – Kaye