Advice from A VERY Amateur Gardener (or, Tales from the Spooky Tomato Forest)
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I like the idea of gardening very much.  The problem is, my attention wanders if I worry too much about instructions.  I lose interest with terms like thinning, spacing, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.


One year I bought some heirloom tomato seeds.  They had exotic names like “Tigerella”, “Midnight in Moscow” and “Abruzni”.  I planned on putting these beauties, plus beans, peas, zucchini, cucumbers and lettuces in my newly dug up garden of three by eight feet.


I started them inside, checked every day and cheered when I saw the first little green shoots pop through.  I thought I’d better do 5 little starters of each, 2 seeds per pot, just to be sure.  30 tomato plants.  Guess what?  They ALL sprouted!  Success!  I was a real gardener!!!  I’d heard that you should yank out whichever seedlings looked the weakest, but that’s so mean!  Not happening with my babies!  They would live!


Into the garden all 30 went, into a space meant for about 6.  We’d be rolling in fresh, organic, heirloom produce for the rest of the year!  All two of us plus a picky four year old (who doesn’t even like tomatoes unless they’re “smushed” – ie, ketchup).  I couldn’t wait.


To make a long story short, it didn’t take long before the garden section of my tiny back yard took on a certain, shall we say…jungle-like appearance?  I was stepping on fallen tomatoes to get to vine ripened ones.  We had sliced tomatoes with every meal for weeks.  I canned jars of chili sauce, salsa, tomato sauce.  I blanched, peeled and froze for hours on end.  At season’s end, I made salsa verde & green tomato chili.  I became afraid to visit my tomato forest, because they wouldn’t stop coming!


The following year I planted four tomato plants.  It wasn’t over, though.  All of the scraps from the neverending tomato crop ended up in the compost.  I was picking tomato seedlings out of my garden by the dozen, and I still ended up with a gang of surprise plants (and fruit) by the end of the summer!  I was beginning to suspect a tomato haunting.


The moral of my story?  Respect Mother Nature, the food she gives, and read the instructions.  Or you had better really, really like what you grow.


Peace, Greens & Beans,


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