There are few things that comfort more than a belly full of hot food on a cold day While some people don’t really change their eating habits year round, I find myself craving the food of my youth — and out of season produce. Mainly watermelon and peaches, which is weird since I don’t really eat them that much when they are in season.
I am however, mourning the loss of our tomato plants, I had diligently covered them to protect them from frost and freezing with a large paint cloth, wanting to prolong the summer bounty as long as possible. Our dog, who is currently being called “that idiot” decided in the dead of the night, those drop cloths were trespassing and by God, he was going to show who was boss around here. So, he ripped them off the plants and proceeded to drag them through the field and yard, showing no mercy as he shredded each one. That morning, I was greeted to the sight of frozen plants and fruit. I tried spraying them water thinking I had read somewhere that would save them. All it did was make them soggy and more pitiful in their blackened, deflated state. I tried saving what I could, but fresh frozen tomatoes are — well, gross. I just didn’t have the energy and time to deal with them, despite knowing full well they would have been just fine in soup or even juice. I scolded the dog for being unhelpful, then went to work, leaving the ribbons of drop cloths in the yard to deal with later that night.
Since we were supposed to have another frost that evening, I decided to bring in a couple pots of herbs which had been spared the previous night once I arrived home. Fresh parsley and basil are lovely additions to many dishes, and I like to grow them when given the chance. Both were robust plants with healthy foliage, thriving despite my mediocre gardening skills and care. I brought them into the house, placing them on a bench in the kitchen so they would receive sun from the east facing windows. You would think they would be safe, but I failed to take in account our one house cat. Molly is not known for being a particularly bright cat and has some really disgusting and annoying habits including; licking your lips when you are asleep, and trying to crawl into and sit in your pants when you are going to the bathroom. She is in short, a creepy weirdo.
It was about day three, when I noticed an offensive aroma coming from the kitchen. I looked at the planters; the soil was undisturbed as was the half dozen plastic fork I had poked into the dirt to keep the cats from digging around the soil. I crawled across the floor of the kitchen, sniffing walls, throw rugs, seat cushions, trying to locate the source of the funky stench. I had reached the point where I was about to declare the Hub’s yard shoes the culprit, when I saw it. Molly, this nitwit cat, was balancing on the edge of the planter with her hind legs, her front legs were on the window pane, mashing the plant against her belly; like she was just looking out the window and the basil was in her way. It wasn’t until I called her name startling her and causing her to move away from the planter, that I realized the leaves were wet. She had been peeing on the plant while standing up on two feet — like some sort of feline dude. HOW was that even possible?
A new quandary, do I throw out the plant? What about just cutting off the lower leaves? How do I get that smell out of the soil? I finally decided to flood the plant with water, hoping to flush the stink out of the soil, then prune it within an inch of its life. A week later, the basil is still looking traumatized from the waterboarding it received and the parsley seems depressed as well. The citrus rinds added to the soil seem to be repelling the cats, but the planters get a daily sniff test — just in case. I know there will be more basil by the time Christmas rolls around, I just can’t help but, think, how nice it would be to have fresh tomatoes to go with it.
Written and submitted by Sarah Roush for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.