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

By William Alexander

Invoice Alexander had no concept that his uncomplicated dream of getting a vegetable backyard and small orchard in his yard may lead him into life-and-death battles with groundhogs, webworms, weeds, and climate; hour of darkness expeditions within the lifeless of iciness to dig up clean thyme; and skirmishes with friends who feed the vermin (i.e., deer). let alone the holidays that needed to be deliberate round the harvest, the close to electrocution of the tree guy, the constraints of his personal middle-aged physique, and the pity of his spouse and children. whilst Alexander runs (just for fun!) a costbenefit research, including up every thing from the stay animal capture to the Velcro tomato wraps after which amortizing it over the lifetime of his backyard, it comes as fairly a surprise to benefit that it rate him a unbelievable $64 to develop every one of his loved Brandywine tomatoes. yet as any gardener will inform you, you can't placed a cost at the unheard of pleasures of supplying clean meals to your family members.

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Now, granted, my apples are targeted. even though no longer natural by way of any stretch of the mind's eye, they're sprayed with a ways fewer (and much less poisonous) insecticides than advertisement apples and, to my palate, flavor a ways better besides. I’m unsure i've got ever tasted any apple finer than a Grimes Golden, with its excellent stability of candy and tart, crispy and juicy. yet is it worthy spending cash to have them throughout the iciness? no longer in the event you pass judgement on via industry costs. We hemmed and hawed at the factor for weeks as harvest day drew close to. Then whilst Anne mentioned that round Thanksgiving, after we usually entertain as much as twenty-five relations, she frequently reveals herself short of an additional refrigerator, that cinched the deal. I didn’t are looking to spend cash to shop 100 money’ worthy of apples, yet so long as we had one other use for it … We set the fridge up within the basement, grew to become the thermostat as little as it can cross, and loaded it with apples filled into gallon luggage that I had peppered with holes. Perforated baggage appeared to offer a superb compromise among maintaining moisture in and permitting adequate out in order that the apples don’t rot. We crammed the fridge to the brim. there have been baggage at the cabinets, baggage within the vegetable and fruit packing containers, luggage at the door. fairly a sight. starting the door was once constantly a surprise, regardless of what percentage instances I did it. however the greatest surprise got here while i noticed that Thanksgiving used to be forthcoming, and the fridge used to be nonetheless packed to the gills with apples. Revelation time: apple harvest and Thanksgiving are either within the fall! There wouldn’t be room within the fridge for a turkey or the rest on Thanksgiving. What on the earth have been we pondering? Had we burdened Thanksgiving with Easter? on reflection this day, I don’t remorse paying for the refrigerator, as we consume clean apples from our orchard into March of the next 12 months. for plenty of winter-storage crops—potatoes, iciness squash, onions—the moisture within the fridge will be as deadly because the heat within the basement. those greens (okay, the squash, just like the tomato, is botanically a fruit) desire a funky, dry, and darkish atmosphere. due to the fact Saharan caves are in brief offer within the Hudson Valley, I didn’t count on to have a lot good fortune, yet we’ve performed strangely good storing potatoes and shallots—a member, like onions, of the genus Allium—in the basement, hot because it is. We cling the shallots in bunches and use all of them wintry weather lengthy. conserving one other allium, the leek, during the wintry weather is one other tale. i like leeks. not just do they make rather nice soup on a chilly winter’s evening, yet growing to be leeks makes me believe definitely medieval. not like these New international discoveries potatoes and tomatoes, leeks are the stuff of clergymen and maidens. in truth, their cultivation is going again a millennium or farther than that. to maintain leeks over the iciness, you permit them correct within the flooring. they won't maintain lengthy within the fridge (or out of it), yet will maintain within the backyard nearly indefinitely in case you can hinder the floor from freezing.

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