Because I Know You are Dying to Know What’s Up with the $3.00 Tomato

So whatever happened to those spent grain cooking projects and that stack of journals? How is the $3.00 tomato plant doing, anyway? I am sure you are all lying awake at night wondering about these things, so let me help you sleep through the night with a few updates:

The brewer with whom I live was working on a series of beers for a friend’s upcoming party. The cookies, granola and banana bread came from the first three in the series (a porter, English pale ale and an amber). The last brew was a witbier and the grains were sort of a combination of oatmeal and a fine, flour-like powder. Not the best for my chosen project; spent grain veggie burgers. Rest assured, there will be more brewing and therefore more cooking.

The journals are still there and I’m sure there is more awesome-ness inside. I’ve been devoting my reading time to Susan Cain’s, Quiet (which was highly recommended to me in response to this post). I checked it out from the library and in addition to being wonderful it also must be returned by June 4. More from the journals after I meet this deadline!

I am sorry to report that the $3.00 tomato is no longer with us. There was a time in my life when I would have blamed my far-from-green thumb, but I actually haven’t been doing too badly with plants as of late and I had a lot of good advice on this one. I think it was just its time to go. Open to suggestions for what to fill the largish tomato container with now . . .

So now you are all up to speed* and can sleep soundly tonight! You’re welcome!

*Something I just got up to speed on: I have been following Kindness Girl on Twitter for some time now – why it just occurred to me last week that I could also follow her blog on WordPress is beyond me. This post is a perfect example of the amazing-ness contained there! If you are feeling un-saitied after my silly update today I highly recommend reading it.

My $3.00 Tomato Plant

 

There’s a new farmer’s market in town (Thursdays 3pm – 7pm at the Turning Basin for those in Richmond, VA).  My husband and I decided to walk down and give it a try.  The verdict:  it’s nice, not huge, but a great location and a good variety of vendors.

One of the vendors was an extremely friendly farmer who asked if we had put in our garden yet.  We laughed and indicated that we had indeed filled a few pots on our patio with herbs and a pepper plant.  He asked if we had planted any tomatoes and I explained my limited success with this in the past.  He recommended a specific tomato and proceeded to give me a number of planting tips.  So I handed over my $3.00 and walked home; the proud and newly educated owner of a baby tomato plant.

We planted it on the patio today.  In the new container we bought ($16) with the bag of soil we bought ($6).  Will I get $25 worth of tomatoes out of it?  Maybe.  Is there $25 worth of joy in talking to someone who understands growing things.  In laughing with my husband about walking a mile home with a baby plant.  In tucking it into the soil and watching it grow.  I’d say absolutely yes!

 

For the Birds . . .

Or perhaps this post should be called, NOT for the birds. This past weekend I planted orange mint and oregano in my window boxes. By yesterday the majority of the mint was gone; plucked by my feathered neighbors for their nests (I assume it was for nests, since I don’t think birds eat plants, though I am in no way an Ornithologist.)

One of my main draws to city living was the lack of yard maintenance. That being said, I love having a few plants around, especially herbs for cooking (and cocktails). One of the most surprising things I have learned in my foray into urban gardening is that animals still present a challenge to your “crops.” I grew up in a rural area and was familiar with the frequent occurence of waking to find lettuce nibbled by rabbits, entire garden crops obliterated by groundhogs or fruit trees snacked on by deer. Naively, I never thought once about herbs plucked by birds or flowers dug up by squirrels.

A couple of years ago I thought I had run across the perfect solution for stopping my plucky little friends: shiny things. Apparently birds see light reflected off a reflective object, think it is fire and move along. I bought a couple pinwheels and stuck them in my planter boxes. Shiny and spinning, that had to look like a raging bonfire to the birds – score! And it did actually work. So when I noticed that my mint was disappearing I thought I would try the same trick, but did not happen to have a pinwheel just lying around (silly, me). So I dug into an old craft box and found some glittery gold and red pipe cleaners. I twisted these into spirals and stuck them near the mint – brilliant!

Or maybe not so much . . . since I came home to find more mint leaves missing. Either the birds in my neighborhood are exceptionly smart or their love of a citrus-y mint-y smelling nest far exceeds fear of fire. So I guess this spring I’ll just have to enjoy my iced tea plain and my juleps mint-less while I think of little bird babies hatching out into a lovely fragrant nest.

Or perhaps, since they are so smart, I could just leave a tiny contract in the windowbox: half for you guys and half for me – deal? Come on guys, I’ll throw in some birdseed . . .