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Three Bean Soup

A vegetable gardener dreams that her 52-square-foot garden will provide all the produce necessary for her family of two. In truth, the vegetable gardener must be realistic. She will end up with much more zucchini than is needed and far fewer beans.

The $500 Tomato

She’ll battle aphids and scale and grubs, and watch the glorious tomatoes she’s nurtured for months disappear overnight. Squirrels!—those #!%? little rascals for whom she’ll make batch upon batch of habanero sauce. She adores critters of all kinds, but hopes the pepper-infused tincture she sprays on her ripening tomatoes will make their tiny lips swell. If she’s lucky—and very patient, she’ll enjoy the fruitof her labors, the first delectable heirloom tomato. This is her hero—the $500 tomato!

She calculates that construction of raised beds, poles, fencing, and soil amendments comes in at just under that amount, BEFORE buying seeds and plants. This first garden, everyone tells her, will pay off ten-fold in years to come. She doesn’t believe a word they say but anticipates the feeling of accomplishment she’ll have when she begins filling the refrigerator with her home grown harvest.

Organic Arsenal

Of course the aphids and grubs and squirrels fail to materialize in the early visual she has of her future feeling of accomplishment. She spends as much time steeping tomato leaf tea, marinating habaneros and blending garlic juice as she does watering the vegetable plants.

Bush beans and pole beans alike will offer up a pod or two each day. If the vegetable gardener waits until she can harvest an entire handful, she’ll undoubtedly be left with at least one dried out pod. If that’s the case, she’ll make three bean soup.

Three Bean Soup

By mid-August things will have gotten rather ugly, the garden a jumble of tomato vines climbing over peppers and crowding out eggplant and winding their own branches into knots—around the poor okra that never had a chance. It’s survival of the fittest out there. The spring garden was all fun and games compared to this. She could cry, but instead comes to the conclusion that her first garden is a learning garden.

Thank goodness she had the foresight to plant the herbs in whiskey barrels on the other side of the property. Herbs are a much more civilized bunch, where everybody stays where they’re planted.

Looking back over the summer, a vegetable gardener has to admit that some vegetables are better gotten at the Farmer’s Market.

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  1. […] learned a thing or two from that first vegetable garden, which came to be known as the $500 tomato. For instance, plant only as many radishes as you will eat. Don’t sow forty seeds that will […]

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