I love cool, damp mornings before the sun has had a chance to evaporate the morning dew. The birds are chirping, the downtown streets are relatively quiet, my plants are vibrant, and I can’t quite make out the horizon – just a haze of blue where Lake Ontario finds land again on the opposite shore. I relish the freshness of an unmade day as I sit on my balcony, amid my tomato plants, and wait for the horizon to transform into the clear delineation of the Niagara Escarpment.
I look over at my tomatoes, wondering whether I should water them. I decide to leave them. This is my first year growing tomatoes, and over the past three months I have proudly seen them grow from seeds to three-foot-tall fruit-bearing plants. I have also learned that gardening is a lesson in balance: too little water, and my tomatoes will wither and dry; too much water and the soil gets moldy, the leaves yellow. My tendency has always been to over-act, so I over-watered my plants, the soil got moldy and the leaves turned spotted and yellow. Early one morning when I realized what I had done, I sat on the ground scooping out the mold and replacing it with fresh soil, thinking about how gardening parallels the realization of our dreams: just as inaction leaves us standing still, too much action leaves us equally lacking and exhausted, trying to make our dreams come true through sheer force, instead of allowing Nature to do her thing.
The good news is that both plants and dreams can be saved. The spotted yellow leaves and sheer exhaustion from trying to do too much may take weeks to heal, but they inevitably will. All they need is time, patience and faith.
Here is a recipe that showcases the flavour of my now-recovered garden tomatoes:
Serves 2. Prep time: 10 minutes
- 2 field tomatoes (heirloom or vine-ripened are fine)
- 1 avocado
- 2 green onion sprigs
- 4 basil leaves
- 2-4 tbsp olive oil
- Salt to taste
- 4 oz buffalo mozzarella
- Mix first 6 ingredients in a bowl, until tomatoes and avocadoes have been coated with olive oil
- Slice and place buffalo mozzarella on top of salad