See this dark cover, with a drip watering system, surrounded by tall grass? That's the way we garden here in the Northwest, with a dark poly cover to attract sun rays and to prevent weeds from chocking the tiny seedlings. Onions, lettuces and peas do well here. I can plant them in succession and have fresh salad ingredients for months-that is if I keep picking them fast, not letting them go to seed. Eventually, though, I want those hot, juicy tomatoes the rest of the world craves during summer months.
I have had some success with tomatoes. First, I must make sure to buy the specialized kind that grow well here. I can't just go to Walmart and wheel out with whatever. I must have early-maturing or small-cherry tomatoes. Nothing bigger. Besides the mulching, thermal looking blanket, my tomatoes will also need plenty of compost. The ground is so washed out, leached, that nothing but sand loving grasses grow here.
And one more thing: I must wait until after Mother's Day to plant tomatoes. It seems that the weather gods-ancient Indian rites-and Alaska winds give us a bit of rest after the middle of May through September. I must hurry to the nursery today, pay whatever they ask, and then rush home to plant.
What did I get for Mother's Day? Tomatoes, or the promise of a sloppy bite on a sunny August afternoon, when, for a few days everything turns bright orange or red, and we sit on the deck, the ocean over our shoulders, with a colorful salad of basil, tomatoes and mozzarella.