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What Price a Home-Grown Tomato?

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What Price a Home-Grown Tomato?

Boots says that's the wrong question

Spring must be here, I see my wife working out in her garden with her winter coat, cap and gloves on. Nose, cheeks and ears red and a frozen smile on her face. She read all the seed catalogs that have arrived since before Christmas and marked every page of interest. Seeds have been arriving in their special packets and were filed in her catalog of where and when they are to be planted. 

I love to see my wife take such an interest in gardening and becoming one of the noted Garden Queens of Bonner County. In order to reach such status, one has to attend all those meetings, seminars, luncheons and garden tours, not to mention checking out all the garden supply houses in two counties. My truck has arrived home looking like a float in the Rose Parade on more than one occasion. “I couldn’t help myself,” she said, “they’re so beautiful and I know these colors are your favorite.”

“Colors? I don’t see any colors, there’s just forty-seven flower pots with leafy green things growing out of them.” “Yes, but just you wait until they all bloom. See the little tags stuck in the dirt? They tell you what kind of flower they will become.” I have been so tempted to switch the name tags just to see the look on her face, but I haven’t... because I am a good person. Plus, I have seen that look and trust me, you don’t want to go there. 

My wife is an Iowa girl, born and bread. Farming is in her blood. She raises the most beautiful, vine-ripe tomatoes you ever locked your lips around, and they should be, at forty-seven dollars and ninety-nine cents a piece, not counting labor. One must handle them with extreme caution, so as not to bruise them. We checked on a farm in South America and we could get them flown in for just under forty-seven dollars each, but that just wouldn’t be home grown.  

So what do you do with a vine-ripened tomato? First, you take two slices of bread, your choice, lather them both up with Mayo then slice that tomato in half-inch slices, placing it evenly on one slice of the bread, cut to fit. Salt to taste and after you place the other slice of bread evenly over the top you put the whole sandwich in the center of a sheet of paper towel on an angle so you have it laid out like a dipper. Now, this is very important, fold the bottom of the towel up half-way over the sandwich then bring the sides in to make a dipper. Pick the sandwich up with both hands and lean over the kitchen sink, because when you start eating you’re going to make a mess. The paper towel is just to keep it out of your ears. If you’re a female with long hair, be sure to put it up in a pony tail before you start.  

I know that at first you might think that forty-seven dollars and ninety-nine cents might be a little steep for just one vine ripe tomato. However, if you’re from the South and it’s been a long time since you’ve lived there, the price you have to pay for a vine ripe tomato here in the great Northwest is insignificant. 

It would be like trying to sell a plastic cigarette to a chain smoker if you tried to make a tomato sandwich out of those hard, red pasteboard offerings they have in our local grocery stores. 

There are many delicacies that can only be found in a home grown garden: for instance, new potatoes and sweet peas in a white sauce, a Southern delight to die for, a meal in itself. A Rhubarb crisp is a spring cleansing, not necessarily in itself but because you eat too much. 

“Where are you going with all this?,” you may ask. It’s the cost. For instance, in the South there are things you don’t have to count for, like a potting and storage shed with electricity. A stainless steel fence eight foot high to keep out the deer, elk and moose, and if you have fruit trees you better electrify it to keep out the bears and the neighbor kids. The bears will go “wolf,” break wind and sparks will shoot out their butt. Neighbor kids, on the other hand, will foul themselves and cause the breaker to go off.  

Raised beds are a must and cinder blocks are ideal for this, the amount of beds one has will determine the cost. Wheel barrows, rototillers, shovels, hoes, rakes and four miles of garden hose all add to the cost of gardening here in the great Northwest. An underground water supply is a necessity, as are many sacks of steer manure. 

Now, what this adds up to is exactly what a man spends on golf, skiing, or fishing, whatever outdoor sport is his specialty. Go ahead, put a pencil to it, it will come out so close to being even you won’t believe it.

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Author info

Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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gardening, From the Mouth of the River, tomatoes, vegetable garden

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