Friday, March 20, 2009

The $64 Tomato

The $64 Tomato
by William Alexander
How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden.
Gardening time is here, is it not? And if you are a gardener, then this is a must read. As the title suggests, we who deign to plant and attempt to grow things sometimes do not know the actual cost of the fruits of our labors. This book is one man's experience at gardening (or really, small-scale farming), working in concert with nature to provide his family with fresh, healthy produce.

But the best-laid plans, and all that.

The author tells us how his family moves to a small, rural town in New York where his wife sets up her medical practice. They buy an old house, pay too much for it, and then pay even more to renovate it. Scarcely finished with that, the author looks longingly at the wild acreage surrounding the hosue and begins plannning for a fantastic garden.

Our hapless gardener becomes a victim first of landscapers, then of pests of the large and small variety, disease, weather, and simply exhausting labor. Nevertheless, he pushes on and year after year manages to produce for his family wonderful fresh produce.

The cost is great when he sits down to calculate the cost of his home-grown produce. But he does not give up -- the benefit is too important.

The author tells his experiences with humor and interesting detail, including helpful information to other gardeners. I enjoyed this book, though I am no vegetable gardener --flowers only, for me. But for anyone who likes to dig in the earth, and enjoys the hopefulness of planting a seed or seedling and seeing where you can go from there, wiill enjoy this book as well.


Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

Thanks for linking this into Book Nerds.Looks like a delightful read.

Gardening in a new location is always expensive and frustrating. But after a period of time you learn what you can produce easily and what you must suffer for. After a dozen years I have given up on what I can pick up at the local farmer's market or the pickup truck of produce at the blinking light.

I devote myself to the easy to grow - exotic forms of lettuce, and the "I can save money" if I grow this group. That latter group is comprised of herbs for my second love - gourmet cooking. Herbs are pricey at stores, especially the fresh one.

But I think for most of us today gardening is a hobby like golf. Sometimes it is as frustrating but like troutbirder mentions it gets us out in the fresh air and moving. And if we are lucky we get rewards that can be taken to the kitchen.

PS: I have found some great herbs that are also decorative and flower beautifully so every flower bed also has useful herbs.

Becky Stauffer said...

My experience with my new lasagna beds was so good and things flourished so much, I may just attempt a small kitchen garden and herbs next year. I've tripled the size of the plot now and two-thirds of it is empty just waiting for my ideas. Tell me more about which hebs you are successful with.

Of course, I have the never-ending problem of deer.

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

I have been successful with Garlic. Just plant organic cloves around. Also garlic in your garden keeps insects away. Chives run riot so always cutting them back to nice compact bush. Tried garlic chives last year and it wintered over well.

French Tarragon is also successful with some winter mulching. Also I love to make a garlic and Tarragon vinegar for salads. Hardier types of oregano, and parsley. I put dill where it can run rampant because it will. Same with mint. Like the flavored mints like chocolate mint.

Trying rosemary out all winter this year because gardeners up here have told me they have huge bushes of it. Mine has flourished since planting outside this summer. Lemon balm I buy every year and replace every year.

Have done Borage in the past. Great tea for the digestive track and kidneys.

Becky Stauffer said...

Great advice. I'm going to give some of those a try. Thanks!

Catfish Tales said...

I'm still waiting on 'The Time Traveller's Wife', which I hope to pick up from the local library Friday. Apparently, I'd reserved this a month ago, which showed on the online reservation page but didn't register to be sent from another library. So, they've now waved the reservation fee with apologies. And hopefully I'll have this much anticipated read fresh for the holidays!