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The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden Paperback – March 2, 2007
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From the Back Cover
When he decides (just for fun) to calculate how much it cost to grow one of his beloved Brandywine tomatoes, he comes up with a staggering $64. But as any gardener knows, you can't put a price tag on the rewards of homegrown produce, or on the lessons learned along the way.
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Aside from this one story which comes at the end of the book, the work on the whole is a must read for anyone considering taking on a large scale gardening project (particularly in the North Eastern US). He tackles the problems of insects, rots, molds, pests, deer, contractors, and ideals about organics.
I have given this book to three friends, all gardening men, who have read it and also loved it. Their spouses report that they hear chuckles from their husbands while reading. That's a pretty good "review" I think.
My one concerning detail as referenced above is the author has his own reviews of products, books, etc. One of the books he offers his opinion on is Weedless Gardening by Lee Reich, a book I have reviewed here on Amazon.com. The concepts offered in Weedless Gardening are dismissed out of hand by the author without any attempt to test them. While I did truly enjoy the stories in the book, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the author as he quite literally broke his back over the years trying to garden the open earth way. Quite often during the read I wanted to pick up the phone and call the author, just give weedless gardening a try and you'll eliminate much of the work that caused the last chaper to be so funny and heart breaking. As the book winds down and the author has to lay down his tools due to health issues, I truly felt sad for him that his obvious passion for the garden was wasted on pointless labor. Labor that could have been invested to much greater good.
Hilarious anecdotes abound in this memoir as the author goes from almost electrocuting a contractor because he forgot to switch off his 6000volt electric fence that he had put up trying to keep deer and Superchuck the groundhog out of his vegetable beds, building a meadow which didn't quite live up to his mental picture of the Sound of Music, finding an aggrieved and snarling possum in a trap, developing blisters on top of blisters in his attempt to keep up with the weeding, painting pollen on apple blossoms in order to fertilize them and how a headstone almost became a garden ornament.
There are moments of self-reflection too around how certain bugs are introduced which could destroy a crop all because a rose bush had been planted or because sod had been laid. And what does it really mean to be organic?
At the end lies the truth that I had come to realize. I would like to be a garden hobbyist, not a full-time farmer. And if that means my yard will remain home to weeds and I will continue to purchase most of my produce instead of growing them myself, I can live with that.