Friday, September 9, 2011

An Old Army Sleeping Bag, Tornado Tomatoes...NoMi Continues Its Storm Recovery

Contributed photo, blog post by John Hoff

Word reaches me all the way in Afghanistan that North Minneapolis gardens ravaged by the tornado in May are producing crops, (albeit traumatized crops) and that one of my Vietnam-era army sleeping bags has been put to good use in the course of renovation efforts...

Many of the tomatoes in North Minneapolis are rotting on the bottom, and only a few of the tomatoes are good. According to one online resource I located, click here, if a tomato touches the ground this will cause tomato rot. The soil is full of microbes and you don't want the soil to touch your tomatoes while they ripen on the vine.

Unfortunately, the tornado knocked many tomato vines to the ground. So those few tomatoes which did not touch the ground and are NOT rotting...these tomatoes are precious.

The rotten ones...those are "tornado tomatoes."

Now, about that army sleeping bag: some years ago, I was living in my 1979 Shasta RV on the mean, hard streets of the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood as well as a friend's backyard in St. Paul (near Frogtown) trying to save money and get myself established in the Twin Cities to be near my son. At one point, a veterans outreach officer visited me in my humble little abode, and gave me two or three army sleeping bags which appeared to be from the Vietnam era. (He had an inconvenient surplus of the bags, and urged me to pass the other bags along to anybody else in need)

I swear, one of those bags just about saved my life when winter came and I didn't quite have the arrangements finalized in the friend's backyard, where I could plug in a heater. And one of those sleeping bags--maybe the same one--made its way to a friend's house, and survived the NoMi tornado.

Recently, my friend decided to use the old sleeping bag during the course of extensive repairs and renovations. Some tornado victims refuse to leave their house vacant. That was when the old army sleeping bag once again came in handy.

Two good lessons to take away from this storm:

1.) After a storm that knocks down tomato vines, harvest your tomatoes. Even if they are green, you can have fried green tomatoes or make a nice green tomato salsa or chutney.

Leave those tomatoes on the vine after they've touched soil, and they will rot.

2.) Keep useful gear stashed away in case of disaster.

Military surplus gear is a lot cheaper than new equipment and frequently better.

Besides, though you may not know the "story behind the gear," you can be confident there's a story...and it's a good story of service, faith, and overcoming.

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