Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Ritual of the Tiniest Tomato

Or........When Things are not Quite Right

Carol started it.
then Chuck added paste to the ritual.
Maybe Stuart will approve of this.

I could not resist the challenge and an excuse to touch the tomatoes and am offering up two submissions for the Ritual of the Tiniest Tomato.

This lovely Cherry Tomato was grown at an elevation of 4000 feet and survived a monsoon and then a drought. It was pelted by hail and survived intact to ripen to tiny red juiciness.

Yea whoopee, a tiny Cherry tomato, put it on a big plate and it looks small,big deal, I can hear you all saying. Really I am not all that impressed with this miniature, smallest of the bunch either. The wild cherry tomatoes that grew as weeds in Hawaii were regularly this small or smaller and had a zap of flavor that was a real treat.

This tiny Tom did have a nice flavor and a burst of juiciness in the center. It was ok.

There were other troubles in the tomato patch. This guy was looking a little piqued. When I saw one of these guys several weeks ago I did not pick it off and fling it into the woods because I am not allowed to touch the tomatoes since I smoke. I wonder if it is the same one.

My second submission for the Tiniest Tomato is this truly dwarf Beefsteak Tomato. There was no tag on this one but its neighbor was labeled "Goliath". I quizzed the resident gardeners, but they were no help in telling me a cultivar name. They did think as a habit they always buy several different varieties.

Added: I found the Tomato tag on this baby"Bush Early Girl".

I am too afraid to eat it.

It isn't only plants that do not grow as well as you intend them to. As I feared there were air pockets in my cement columns and some had had the steel pushed to the side.

It was not a complete disaster. They are still stable and mostly sound for now. They have to be fixed though. Moisture and cold could cause freeze and thaw damage and they could crumble over time. The shorter columns were fairly decent and we will mix epoxy with some kind of mortar/cement and patch them. Only about twelve inches of these will be above ground.

The tops of all the columns were pretty good from me poking them with a 2x2 piece of lumber.

The taller lower columns will have a larger ten inch diameter tube, maybe corrugated galvanized metal, that would actually look kinda cool or Schedule 40 PVC which would be easier for us to cut, placed over them up to about seven feet and filled again with soupier flowing concrete. This new tube will remain in place on the exterior of the column. They will range from four to six feet above the ground.

Both the top and bottom of the taller tubes were pretty good. The sheer weight of the concrete filled the bottom and my poking filled the top. The centers are a little scary and will be fixed by re-pouring around them.

I have started the process of re-claiming my gravel driveway by breaking up the spewed concrete. Once the columns are repaired I will toss this stuff in the hole when I back fill around

Even Daylilies have bad days.

Now my semi-hollow columns were bad enough but my day started with the ceiling in my luxury basement accommodations collapsing in the middle of the night. The first tile that fell woke me, but I did not see what it was. The second tile falling woke me again and I saw the roof had a hole in it. I figured there was a leak. When the third tile fell I gave up and got out of bed and began the hunt to find out what was leaking.

Now 17 hours later it is still leaking. We turned off every single line in the house individually which can be done in the basement closet where all the shutoffs for every toilet, sink, shower and appliance is located, to try and diagnose the problem. There does not seem to be a leak in any of the water lines. It may be the large S trap on the washing machine drain line above my head that finally gave way when I washed my work clothes yesterday. So tonight while the trap slowly drains I will enjoy Chinese Water Torture Dreams or Enhanced Water Resting as some might call it.

There are some days when you just feel like pulling your hair out.

Then along comes the Ritual of the Tiniest Tomato and you realize that next year things will be much better.


Anonymous said...

It's always something!

Annie in Austin said...

Our Juliets are small, but they'd look enormous next to this tomato - the glass plate is beautiful.

I remember learning about tomato mosaic and tobacco use, but we don't smoke so I forgot about it until you reminded me.
I was terrified of those green worms when I was a kid. Some documentary on PBS showed the wasp eggs on the hornworm being parasitized in turn by another smaller insect. So it goes.

Good luck with the mystery leak.


Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

That concrete pier is not acceptable.
I doubt the inspector , if he is doing his job, will allow that concrete work to pass .

It looks like the mix was too dry and obviously it was not vibrated.

In your neck of the words I am not sure who provides the vibrator when the pour occurs but it looks like someone forgot to do that all important step in the process.

Also from the looks of it , the reinforcement cages don't look up to standard.
Maybe I'm used to engineering standards that have to stand up to earthquakes, but that is one weak looking pier system.

On a slope such as that we ( here in CA ) would have a grade beam connecting the piers as well.

It will be interesting to see if you pass inspection.
keep us updated.

Carol Michel said...

So much to comment on. I love a story that takes you from one topic to the other... through topics that are unrelated but somehow seem related. Your underperforming Beefsteak is most impressive.

Thanks for a good read!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

Christopher C. NC said...

So it was the vibrator we were missing. I blame us! We should have been in control of the situation and the concrete pump guy just took off and filled things as fast as he could. The concrete was too dry and that did not help.

All the piers are connected at the bottom by a 16 inch wide 8 inch deep concrete footing that is all from the same pour, but an earlier wetter batch of concrete. All the piers have two 5/8ths pieces of rebar that go to four inches below the top. We used 4000 psi concrete.

Our repair on the taller piers is going to be a re-pour using a larger diameter tube and 5000 psi concrete that is a bit more flowable. I am not opposed to doing the same on the shorter piers, new larger diameter tubes and a re-pour. They are not as bad and my contractor wants to patch them with an acrylic or epoxy mixed with cement.

Michelle, feel free to help me avoid disaster any time.

Deviant Deziner, aka Michelle said...

Well I guess I sometimes earn my nick name : Construction Dominatrix.
And at every concrete pour THE Dom, wants to see that big shiny silver metal vibrator doing its job.
... and the job has to be done to satisfaction is achieved .

Sometimes misery love company, and Christopher, you got company.
This has happened to one of our jobs in the past.
It's a tough one to swallow because there is so much work involved getting the forms set up for the pour.

Glad to hear that you do have a grade bond beam interconnecting the piers together.
Guess I didn't see it in the photo.

I'm sure you guys will figure out the right solution.

Onward Progress !

Still the project is looking good .

Michelle , " The Dom".

chuck b. said...

I don't know what's scarier--the tomato worm or those concrete columns. Yikes!

The tomatoes are downright cute.

You haven't beaten me tho'.

I have the tiniest tomato!

Anonymous said...

Of course I'd approve, Christopher. Surely it wouldn't take any fertilisers, or overwatering, to grow the tiniest tomato.

'Fraid I can't compete just yet though until summer comes our way. But it will added to my things-to-do list.

Interesting discussion between you and Deviant Deziner re the concrete columns. I hope it all works out for you...

Christopher C. NC said...

Big Whoop Chuck, you may have the tiniest Cherry Tomato, but so far I have the tiniest regular size slicing Tomato. Beat that!

The good news about my scary columns is that they are all within 1/4 of an inch of perfect alignment and only 3/4 of an inch height difference in one row over the course of 26 feet eight inches. I'll adjust for that slight height difference or I may start leaning to the right when I am pointed south.

Stuart glad to hear you are cool with the Ritual of the Tiniest Tomato.

Column repairs will begin tomorrow. I think it will all work out fine, one column at a time.

Anonymous said...


See, your instincts about the columns were right the first time (when the contractors blew you off). You're a natural builder!

Catherine said...

Liked your post!! Love the way you showed the tomatoe in the center of thebeautiful glass plate! And a gardener's philosphy is always~~Things will be better next year!! I'm no contractor, but sorry you are having such a time with your project!!

Christopher C. NC said...

Bev you are certainly correct. I am gaining some valuable experience here for when I build the two bedroom house. Thanks for the vote of confidence, not that I am sure I deserve it.

Catherine, maybe I can tweak the gardener's philosophy just a bit and say things will be better in the next phase of construction. Yes they will.

lisa said...

Love those tomatoes! Was that "hair" from sweet autumn clematis? Good luck with the concrete!