August 17, 2008 The $64.00 Tomato

The $64 Dollar Tomato


On my summer read list was The $64 Dollar Tomato by William Alexander.  It was a pretty funny book; it would have been hilarious if it weren’t so true. Still a good read, even if it did give reason to pause. 


There were a lot of parallels in his gardening journey to mine.  We are about the same age, educational level, technical level, and determination.  My horticulture path was different, he went for food and I went for flowers.  But the pain and joy levels were very similar.   I could write the sequel, the $55 Phlox or even The Free Nightly Nosh Bar.  So far my back is holding out, but it is only a matter of time before, like William Alexander, I will have to evaluate what I can continue to do.  But right now, nothing less than all is on my radar screen.


I have finally given up on growing Rudbeckia spp. (Black-eyed Susan’s), in the ground at least.  They seem to be a particular favorite to the ever increasing bunny population I’ve got going on.  I now have a couple containers with BES in them.  We’ll see how that works.  They should be good container flowers, although I have never grown them this way.  Hope it works, because I think it will be the only way to enjoy them. The bunnies also like Echinacea spp. particularly purple coneflowers and those sweet double pink ones.  They don’t seem as enthralled with the new fangled colors, orange, sunset, yellow, etc.  Planting a purple coneflower in my garden is just more money down the snake hole…hmmm, I wonder do snakes eat bunnies?  I guess it will need to be a pretty big snake (or small bunny.)  No doubt my bunnies are too big ‘cept for maybe a boa constrictor.  However, if my neighbors would balk at us getting chickens, I can only imagine the reaction of having a jumbo snake in the hood.


We have been blessed with fall-like weather for the last week to 10 days.  When the humidity lowers, like it does in the fall, I’m it at my happiest.  Gardening is never better.  Perhaps risky, but this is why I choose to have the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour, also benefiting the JCRA in the fall because I wanted to show our gardening community that the gardening season does not end after summer – or worse – after spring.  Fall gardening in the Carolinas is one of the best seasons for gardening. 


Steve Bender with Southern Living magazine will be in Raleigh this fall to see what we have going on in our neck of the woods.  It will be my pleasure to take him around to see gardens, garden centers, the farmers market, the JCRA, and more.  My goal is for him to leave with an understanding that we as a gardening community that gardens year-round…especially in the fall.


Helen Yoest (Philbrook)


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