garden update (and a love letter to tomatoes)

Six weeks ago I planted a little garden, with tomatoes, beans, marigolds and a couple loofas (vines from W. Africa whose seedpods encase shower loofas). How’s it doing?

Mixed results. The rows I made of beans and tomato plants were the biggest contrast. The beans, which had less shade, more clay-like soil and a strange tiny bug infestation, are almost all dead. There are about five left that have taken to the sticks. No big loss, I don’t really cook beans anyway.

The tomatoes, fortunately, are looking lovely. A few weeks ago we had a ceva – a southern wind that lasts for about eight days – and they were all rather sideways. On the advice of my yaca (namesake PCV who lives in the isolated Lau group of islands) I stuck in some sticks and tied them up, and they’ve boomed. A number have small yellow flowers, and I need to add to the trellis system asap.

I found an old desk frame and stuck it in the soil over my passion fruit vines and then threw a coconut leaf on top. Under it’s shade I added four bean plants of a different variety, a second loofa plant, two tomato plants and a pumpkin plant I grew from seeds harvested from dinner. Everything there is growing very well, and the passionfruit and loofa are climbing quickly. I will need to add more there to support the plants soon as well.

And the last bit of bad news: the marigold are almost all dead, only three left. I believe it was a combination of things: poor soil & excessive sun (most were planted near the beans) and also the kids who hang out around & occasionally crash into my garden, flattening the little flowers. Mostly I just ineffectively yell kua ni caqe tavaya so ke! Stop kicking bottles over there! And they kick the other direction until I’ve moved on.

Really hoping to eat these tomatoes before I go. They are both my favorite fruit and my favorite vegetable. Apart from the occasional pumpkin curry I have been going absolutely ham on tomatoes over the last month, as the prices of big, plump piles of tomatoes has crashed to $2 a pile, making lots of spaghetti sauce and chili. Tonight I paired it with rice, making a sauce with onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, fresh basil from Janet’s farm, tomatoes from Livai’s farm and chicken left over from an event at the school Thursday night.

Some things I may adapt to quickly when I leave Fiji, but I’m currently stumped on what I’ll eat without the market and climate. Can’t even imagine buying tomatoes at a supermarket, it just sounds unnatural.


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