as summer draws to a close it’s time to appreciate what an awful mess it made

Mike Paulus

Hey, do you like tomatoes? Like, really like tomatoes? Well, if tomatoes are your all-time favorite fruit and you can bite into one as if it were a big shiny apple, blasting tomato juice and seeds all over your face and down your chin and onto the new, white carpet and all over your yippy Yorkshire terrier Puddin’ Pop ... well, have I got news for you.

This past summer’s insane combination of torrential rain and smothering humidity have produced a perfect storm of produce. My yard runneth over. Like many of you, my wife Shannon and I have a little vegetable garden behind our house and holy crap just look at it.

Other than an initial staking-up of drooping tomato vines, we haven’t touched the garden all summer long. No watering. No weeding. No tending it in any way. Shannon figured out what to plant last spring, we planted it, and BANG-POW-POOF! We have more veggies than we can handle.

Our garden is the size of three to four normal sidewalk panels and has thus far produced well over 9,000 tomatoes. Do you have any idea how much tomato soup you could make with 9,000 tomatoes? How many liters of spaghetti sauce? How many BLTs? How many bottles of Mike’s Famous Tongue-Wallopin’ Horseradish and Wasabi Ketchup? I do:

Twenty thousand bowls of tomato soup, 15,000 liters of marinara, 27,500 BLTs, and five bottles of my famous ketchup (it’s really tomato-y). Obviously, as I’ve exhaustively proven in a totally scientific way, there are a lot of tomatoes growing in my yard.

It’s like a big plant orgy out there – leaves, stems, and stalks are shooting out all over the place. The tomatoes have mingled with the peppers. The zucchinis have infiltrated the sunflowers. The watermelons have crept into the beets. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a healthy toma-pepini-melon growing in there somewhere.

And I’m pretty sure there’s a spot in the garden – a spot way in the back where the light of the sun can’t reach – where rabbits and squirrels enter ... to never return. Late at night, as I carry carrot peels to the compost bin, I swear I can hear a strange whispering. And the other day, while picking a giant zucchini, my wife found some rudimentary digging tools.

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