Ace Bush: A Story Of Survival

Along the theme of my happy-making plants, here is the one surviving Ace Bush tomato, who is about four months old. About three times older than the Cherokee tomato (who is now over 42 inches tall), Ace is only 9-10 inches tall. (Note: I measure from soil to apical meristem--in the case of the Cherokee, I measure to the most vertical meristem, because it's easier and a one or two inch difference isn't a big deal).

Ace germinated in early February--in fact, likely around 3 February, when I noted that "the tomatoes are thinking about [coming up]" in my little log. Several days later, I noted mushrooms growing in the cardboard box with Ace and his siblings and cousins. Then came the fungus gnats. Then came the great drought of February/March, after I treated with Neem and stopped watering (to deter fungus gnats) until my planter was constructed. The fungus gnats mostly disappeared--and the plants mostly died.

Ace, somehow, made it through. Out of an entire packet of seeds, Ace is the only tomato plant left. Four or five made it into the planter--he's the only one who struggled through the redesign and made it into adolescence. Since the introduction of Cherokee and the aphids/spider mites/whiteflies/reermergence of fungus gnats, little Ace has fought, shrugged the weight of months off his shoulders, and prospered. He is the plant who made me realize so many things about how I assumed I could garden: 1. Indoors is not outdoors, especially when it's February and you don't have any supplemental light. 2. Supplemental light is pretty much necessary for a lot of vegetable crops, so many of which are often bred to be grown in large, flat, empty fields with full sun all day. 3. Despite inhospitable conditions, some plants will sit around and wait until better conditions present themselves--the gardener just has to figure out what the plant needs.

Ace never really complained--he just slowly, patiently let me know what he needed: heat, light, better soil, and fertilizer. Other plants weren't so kind; or I was not so kind to them.

Ace has been through much more than just a drought, lack of light, and cool temperatures. When the eggplant and pepper plants, mere inches away from Ace, were overrun with icky squishy insects, Ace survived the cull, growing large enough to survive the pinching, crushing, and general roughness which is needed to mash bugs into pulps. The other seedlings, however, were less able to survive, and when I noticed the little crawlies still eating the dying stalks right below the soil line, that's when I instituted the Zero Tolerance Death To All Insect-Bearing Plants policy.

Because I want to give Ace--and any other plant who makes it through such hardships--all the opportunities in the world to keep growing and eventually produce a wonderful crop.

I am definitely going to be saving some tomatoes from Ace (pending production of said tomatoes) for following plantings. This plant is one tough cookie!

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One Response to Ace Bush: A Story Of Survival

  1. This post should be called "An Ode to Ace" I feel the same way about any of mine that make it through adversity and saving their seeds is like my little tribute.

    Good for you for having a tough guy (or gal) in your garden of tomatoes!



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