The Three Hundred Dollar Tomato

I had this wonderful plan, create a beautiful garden to go with my newly planted expanse of green lawn. I hadn’t grown a vegetable garden in a few years and after seeing my best friend’s tomato plants produce the most wonderfully tasting homegrown tomatoes, I was inspired to try again.

I humbly admit I have a green thumb. I can grow almost anything from store bought to “appropriated” seeds and cuttings. Yes, I am the one you see on walks, snipping or pulling off seed pods from neighbors’ curbside gardens. One day I will have a crime sheet of arrests for plant theft. My son, the judge, will have to bear the shame of sentencing me to community service (I hope), perhaps working in a community garden. Although, after all the times I sent him to his room for time out, this would be his chance to get even and send me to a cell for my own time out.

So I bought my seeds after pouring over seed catalogues, went to the nursery and bought larger plants (As I have said before, I am an impatient gardener). My landscaper built an elaborate bed with a drip irrigation system and filled the bed with the best garden soil to create a raised vegetable garden.

I planted and waited. I was delighted when I discovered my little plants starting to put forth their small blossoms and tiny fruit. I pictured the late summer “al fresco” dinner for friends with all the harvest from my beautiful garden, a roasted pepper salad, grilled eggplant, a basil and tomato antipasto, stuffed zucchini and a melon sorbet. Yummy!

And then I awoke one morning to devastation. All the plants had been consumed down to the bare stems. Every leaf, bloom and small tomato had disappeared. I sat down on the grass and cried. Yes, this strong, resilient old lady cried. There I was with my morning coffee, in my pajamas and my “Pippi Longstocking” hair, sobbing for all to hear.

I soon discovered the culprits, squirrels…those cute furry little “bushy tailed rats”, as my husband calls them, had invaded not only the raised vegetable garden but had eaten all the flowers of my petunias and lobelia. They didn’t touch the @#% weeds…gourmands that they are.

So now I was forced to not only replant but also build a barrier around my garden. I have tried all kinds of repellents but they kept coming for their daily feast. I had even in a moment of desperation considered a bee bee gun. My bird netting and the stapled wire fence is so impenetrable that even I cannot get into my own garden. I will just admire the ripe tomatoes from afar. My neighbor has asked my husband to let him know when I try to get into the garden….he wants to bring his camcorder.

Now there is new fruit on the vines and I am once again optimistic. But after adding up all the costs of creating and preserving my beautiful garden, I figure I will be the proud owner of the first $350.00 tomato. I will relish every bite.
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