Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The final Final on the garden

[Don't want to read all through the Taming of the Tomatoes? Scroll to the bottom for final garden tallies. Loser.]

If I ever sincerely wondered whether four tomato plants may have been too many, this weekend I had it confirmed for me.

Four tomato plants is too many.

At least when it comes to Breaking Down the Garden time. Because this one woman, her trusty giant yard waste bin and composter can't really handle everything that gets dished out by four tomato plants.

Especially after going for a six mile run and realizing there are 800 bulbs ready to be planted.

Think I'm being a whiner?

This is what the TWO tomato plants looked like last year.

On the left, there.

Notice that they are strong growers. Recall that they produced a good amount of tomatoes. Remark on how they are staying confined to their one bed, there.

And now notice how this year's FOUR tomato plants look like nothing like that.

Because instead they look like this:


Like big, green, scary tomato monsters intent on consuming their entire beds and spilling out onto the ground, searching for new acreage to absorb.

By last weekend, these plants had taken on a whole new life. Thanks to Fall That Thinks It's Summer But Then Thinks It's Winter, we had a big rainstorm, followed by a minor heat wave, followed by mild temperatures, followed by the tomato plants inquiring about a move to our neighbor's yard.

Those things even had the gall to put on new blossoms and make for the fence.

Don't get too close.
Well, after my recent pillaging of the tomatoes and the fast-approaching first frost date (11/1), I'd had these guys marked for destruction.

Hell if I was going to hold out for Miracle November Tomatoes knowing full well that frost would come and turn these plants to goo.

And cleaning out four gooey tomato monsters in the cool morning mist of a November Saturday? No, thank you.

However, the removing of these plants was almost more than I could handle. And it was certainly more than my yard waste bin could handle. Even with help from the composter and the wheel barrow and the ever-growing street pile.

I knew I was fucked when, in trimming back the plants so that I could just walk between the beds, I managed to fill the green bin to the brim.

It was empty when I started.
So, then I began tossing trimmings and eventually plants into the wheel barrow, thinking I'd just wheel that guy out to the street when I was done and VIOLA! I'd be finished.

Not so.

See, four trimmed tomato plants is more than one wheel barrow can handle. Even when it's piled up just so.

This was taller than me.

And by *just so* I mean that there was even strategic log cabin type piling strategies going on here so that they all didn't go careening off one side in a waterfall of greenery.


I wish I'd taken a photo of the aftermath with the wheel barrow, but let's just say that it became top heavy and keeled over in an impressive display of giving-up-ness all over my freshly cleared bed.

Bubba had pity on me and cleared it all out to the street. I think he knew I was going to cry.


After all that whining and trimming and coaxing of tomato plantness into bins and composters and yard piles and wheel barrows, the beds looked good and the soil was intact.

Always a good sign.

Plus, I managed to haul away an extra and unexpected nine pounds of tomatoes (some green - for salsa) and a bag of basil.

Made a nice end of season batch of pasta with this.

And with the beds freshly turned, I jammed some garlic in the ground so that the dog would have something to uproot on Sunday when she went to bury her new fancy (gross) bone. Thanks, puppy.

Apparently my hand prints say, "Come! Dig here!" to the dog. I should clarify.

Then I got to do something I've wanted to do since the beginning of the season when I went off my nut and decided to track the garden's productivity.

I tallied the final numbers.

So, as my gift to you for hanging in for the whole season and this post full of my whiny bitchiness, here are the numbers for your gardeny gratification:

Sow cost: $91.34
Reap value: $1,221.68
Garden's net value: $1,130.34
Cost per pound: $0.33
Total pounds: 273.98
Poundage winner: Tomatoes @ 208.25 lbs
Poundage runner-up: Kentucky Green Beans @ 33.375 lbs

If you want to see how the other crops netted out, you can go look over at my dorky tracker. I look at it a lot and, if it were a real live thing, I'd probably spoon with it and call it naughty names. I love spreadsheets so much.

But what did I learn from all this? Well, I'll just go ahead and answer my own questions from long ago:

How much did it cost to grow?: See above. Not a lot.

How much did I save by growing it myself (rather than buying it at Whole Foods or similar kind of place)?: See above. A LOT.

Where did it all go?
Friends, neighbors, hair dressers, moms, coworkers and enthusiastic Pilates instructors.
In trades for lemons, limes, pomegranates, eggs, love.

Did we eat this stuff?
Beans, cucumbers, basil and tomatoes - YES. Though a lot of the tomatoes went to happy non-tomato growers.
Corn - sorta.

Should I grow it again?
Beans, cucumbers, basil and tomatoes - YES. Though we'll be going back to our two happy plants after this invasion.
Corn - NO. We couldn't eat it fast enough and it got starchy. Plus it takes up a ton of room, nukes the soil and costs a big fat nickel to buy at the farmstand when it's in season.

So, that's it for the summer garden. I feel that it was a resounding success and has satisfied my A/R desire for documented spreadsheeted evidence supporting my gardening obsessiveness. Also, now I know that I can skip the corn section in the seed catalogs and, instead, look for melon seeds so that we can, once and for all, determine whether it's worth it.

And because I practice the art of Shopping Then Forgetting and Adopting Then Forgetting, there will be a winter garden of sorts made up of the things I ordered and then forgot until they showed up at my door (fava beans, garlic) and things I adopted from winter garden growing friends and then forgot until I got an email that they were ready (leeks, purple kohlrabi, broccolini, lettuces, something else I can't remember).

So you know - I am not tracking a thing because, let's face it, I'll probably forget. Poor plants. They hardly stand a chance.


  1. So . . . no $64 tomato for you?

    What a jerk that guy was. Don't you think he would feel stupid for even admitting he spent that much to grow tomatoes? He should. Feel stupid, I mean. Because he was.

  2. I'm really excited for my father in law to get me potatoes and onions soon. Not because I eat them, obviously, but because almost everything I cook requires onion and hubs like taters. And bitches are expensive up here. Have you done green peppers? They grow out of control here, and I have 8 boxes of sliced and diced peppers in my freezer. They are FABULOUS if you freeze them and then use them. I mean, they smell great. I don't actually eat them. But they do smell good. :)

  3. As I've said before, I've thoroughly enjoyed your ongoing stories about your gardening efforts. This post is the best, which brings me to another subject. NaNoWriMo. I don't know what kind of novel you're writing, but you could take all your gardening stories and make it into a novel. It would make for a terrific read as it has all the elements: an interesting and certainly provocative protagonist (you), a challenge (your garden), sub-crises (dogs, bugs, etc.), and I could go on but you'll know what I mean. The best thing is that it's funny even for non-gardeners. Just a thought.

  4. And I truly have a hard time tracking basic expenses. You never cease to impress!

  5. The only good thing about The Dreaded Northest Tomato Blight is that I don't have to feel guilty for not composting my tomato plants. Advice is to BURN THEM like the witches they are but since I live in a city and that sort of hillbilly behavior is illegal, I'll just chop 'em up and put them into the trash. And since they were so blighty, they're sad and small.

    See? I can find a silver lining anywhere. Yay me!

  6. Holy crap, your tomatoes were still blossoming? My measly little plants surrendered to the cold over 2 months ago.

    And I can't tell you how much I've enjoyed your tracking experience. I get the shivers, you know. I hope you keep it up, just to encourage everybody to grow their own.


[2013 update: You can't comment as an anonymous person anymore. Too many douchebags were leaving bullshit SPAM comments and my inbox was getting flooded, but if you're here to comment in a real way like a real person, go to it.]

Look at you commenting, that's fun.

So, here's the thing with commenting, unless you have an email address associated with your own profile, your comment will still post, but I won't have an email address with which to reply to you personally.

Sucks, right?

Anyway, to remedy this, I usually come back to my posts and post replies in the comment field with you.

But, if you ever want to email me directly to talk about pumpkins or shoes or what it's like to spend a good part of your day Swiffering - shoot me an email to finnyknitsATgmailDOTcom.