Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sacrificial tomato plant

Actually, this poor hapless tomato plant survived its ordeal and is thiving in its pot once again, with dirt covering its roots. I had purchased it for the purpose of drawing it for a new gardening column I am writing for the Minneapolis community newspaper the Southside Pride.

So you may be surprised to learn that I did not write about tomatoes for my first column, slated to appear in the May editions (they publish three neighborhood editions each month). Rather, I wrote about dirt. That is, I wanted to address the fundamental "elements" of gardening, wishing to also recall the traditional four elements: earth, air, water, fire. So, for the first column I wrote about earth/dirt in the context of organic gardening -- for example, that you feed the soil, not the plant, by making compost and adding it to the garden.

But I didn't really want to draw an image of dirt or compost to go with the column. So since I started by telling about my first gardening experience, in which I grew a couple of tomato plants, I decided that a drawing of a tomato plant would be just the thing. And I wanted to draw it roots and all not only because I like those sorts of botanical drawings, but also to convey the sense of reaching into the earth.

And the only way, it seemed, to prop up my model so that I could do the sort of drawing I wanted, was to shake out the roots and then suspend the plant from a ceiling light in the dining room. So there it hung, slowly twisting in the air until I found a way to stop it (by placing a clear plastic ruler on a lamp and setting that next to the plant; hard to explain, but it worked).

I didn't think to take a picture of the drawing before I brought it over to the newspaper, so I'll try to fetch it back when they're done with it and upload an image of it then.

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