The $190 Tomato

Admittedly, I have never been what I would call a dedicated vegetable gardener.  Oh, I would throw in a few tomato plants and a zucchini and call it a season.  At our old house in NY there was never sufficient sun and more than sufficient ground hogs (who knew ground hogs could climb a fence??).  I gave up.   But my concerns about the quality (pesticide load, GMO)  of what we eat is increasing so I decided to dedicate myself to food production.

There are challenges in Connecticut.  The soil is rocky to be sure and though I haven’t seen a groundhog (yet), the deer are voracious.  I decided to grow in a small space of fenced-in raised beds.   Luckily, I have a man who is quite handy and after much teeth gnashing, I decided on a modification of the Sunset plan to fit behind the wood shop.  Basically the required materials were:

  • Wood (Douglas Fir) which I opted not to stain out of concern for chemicals –   $48
  • Galvanized screws – $9
  • Quarter-inch-mesh hardware cloth  (for the moles &  VOLES) – $30
  • PVC pipes for hoop with galvanized tube straps  –  $13
  • 1 cubic yard of 50% soil, 50% compost –  $30
  • Metal fencing – $58!!

The bottom line (in North East dollars) was about $190 and that included doing some scavenging in the barns for wood and fence posts.  The fencing was the biggest surprise – yowzah! The $190 tomato?   Getting close…

Don’t they just look like Conestoga wagons heading over the prairie?   The hoops will support both plastic and row cover.   I look forward to using them for IPM (integrated pest management) by covering crops when they are most in danger.

Vegetable Beds
Vegetable Beds

Here is a close up of the bed.   I am using the square-foot gardening technique.   The concept is to divide the space into sections and plant vegetables,  companion flowers and herbs in one foot spaces.   The advantages are reputed to be reduced workload, less watering, easy weeding … we’ll see.  More to come on this...

Raised Bed
Raised Bed

Also, in conjunction with row cover and plastic,  I hope to extend the growing season with a cold frame (handily built by William using an old window).  Ah, the best laid plans of mice and gardeners…

Cold Frame
Cold Frame


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