Confessions of the “Two-Tomato” Wannabe Farmer

I’m a bit of a dreamer, you know.

I think I can attribute that to possibly watching too many movies growing up. I often envision parts of my life in movie scenes — you know how they script them so unrealistically perfect you just know it’s fake but you want it to be real?

Um, yeah. Somewhat story of my life.

More often that not, the real life version of my fantasy land is completely the opposite. Like, 180 degree complete opposite.

Case in point: Gardening last spring.

Daydream: We’re sitting on a little bit more than a half acre and have more than enough room to plant a garden (this part is actually not a day dream). I dream of self-sufficiency because you know, I’m all about giving the middle finger to Monsanto and enjoying the most freshest and local food I can get. I want to be one of those people you see on a Facebook meme that has a garden in their front yard because they believe in fresh food no matter what space you have.

I dream of 12 raised garden beds teeming with an abundance of food that I grew from seed. I dream of being able to go out every day and nurture my plants with Andrew tagging along. We’d dig in the dirt, look for bugs, laugh, play, and then go harvest juicy tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh berries that are just overflowing from our pretty woven basket. After having an over abundance of fun in the sun and dirt, Andrew and I would head back inside and make a yummy meal using only the things we harvested that morning.

Ahh, it doesn’t get any better than that.

But then reality hits.

Reality: I dream of self-sufficiency but it is furthest from what I had. Instead of having 12 raised garden beds, I had six 13-gallon containers with 10 plants total. Only 10 of the 30 seeds I planted survived because we didn’t build garden beds in time. A few weeks later, four more plants died which left me with only six. I was fighting to keep my cherry tomato and lemon cucumber plant alive. Especially the lemon cucumbers because I can’t find them here in Florida and I miss them so much. I told Scott, “I don’t care what happens, as long as I get one cucumber out of the plant.”

At first my plants flourished but life got in the way and I started to somewhat neglect the plants. Between blog work, kid work, husband work and house work (phew) the small garden work got left behind. “Babe, when’s the last time you watered your plants?” is something I heard more often than I want to admit. I’d often reply with a “I watered it like 2 days ago.” When really it was like 4. Ssshhhh.

Regardless of the neglect, for a few weeks, the plants seemed to be really thriving. I even spotted a few cucumbers and tomato starts. “Eeek, so excited” I told myself, thinking about the bounty I’d be harvesting soon. A few days later, ravenous bugs took over my plants. Gotta love Florida and it’s bugs said no one ever. Since I want to be all-natural, I chose the not-so-easy way of dealing with the problem. It worked, but only until the next problem arrived.

I carefully watched the blossoms turn into something and tried to protect them as much as I could. Weeks go by and get this, I end up with one juicy, plump lemon cucumber. Not 10, not 15, not 5, just one. “Babe, when are you going to pick that cucumber?” I tell him I’ll pick it tomorrow to give it just one more day to fully ripen. I can literally taste the crisp, freshness of the lemon cuke.

Tomorrow came and I headed out proudly to my four cucumber plants that only gave me one cucumber and plucked it from the vine. “You’re mine, all mine.” I tell myself. I brought it inside, set it on the cutting board and then realized I had a hole! It made my stomach turn just a little so I cut open the cucumber, pulled out the fat caterpillar and headed straight to my ladies to give them a treat. Take that caterpillar for borderline ruining my only lemon cucumber.

I tossed the image of the caterpillar in my cucumber, cut off the piece it was munching in and then cut off a piece to eat. Yum. I was finally enjoying my only cucumber that I so desperately wanted. I turned the cucumber over to make another slice and damn it! Another hole! I carefully cut around to inspect and of course,there was another caterpillar creeping in my cucumber. Only this time it was brown and big. Yuck. You probably can guess where that caterpillar went.

When I stepped back inside, I let out a big sigh and ate a few more bites trying desperately not to think about that ugly brown caterpillar in my precious cucumber that I wanted so bad. But, after pulling out two fat worms, my appetite was lost and that was that.

Oh and my tomatoes? Yeeeaahhh, I got about 20 cherry cucumbers TOTAL of three plants.

So there you have it: the confessions of the “two-tomato” wannabe farmer.

You can’t help but laugh, right? Sometimes that is just how life is and the way you react sets you up for the next phase. You live and you learn! Since I am a go-getter and I really want a successful garden, I am going to try a different approach for the fall season.

There are two huge things I’ve learned (that I hope will set me up for a more successful harvest) and I’ll share that with you in the next post.

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  1. Loriel, this post CRACKED me up! I can TOTALLY relate to you. Check this. Supposedly zucchini’s are the easiest plant to grow ever, right? Resilient to (some) less water, hot sun and you’ve got plenty of warning when pests arrive. Well, I somehow managed to kill 5 plants. Yep – I got ONE zucchini out of five plants and the rest died. I got spider mites, squash bugs AND powdery mildew and there was nothing I could do. Don’t feel bad about your tomatoes or your cucumber. I got your back. 🙂

  2. Celebrate your harvest and know that you’ll have many more gardening booboo’s through the years…..but you will learn more about what works and what doesn’t with each passing season. You’ll get those beds built and filled with luscious veggies eventually!

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