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Reporter’s blog: I cut back on gardening, but still ended up with twice the tomatoes

Spending time in the garden reminds me of my beloved black lab dog, Izzy

Every vegetable in my garden has an average price of $1,000 a pound. 

Or at least, that’s what it feels like. 

With the time, the expense, the work and the worry, especially for a garden I started in order to “save money,” I feel like every single morsel is the most precious and frustrating thing I have ever produced. 

But I didn’t put as much of a garden in this year. Only partly by choice, as the same effects the pandemic had on gardening in 2020 were visited on it this year with high demand and staffing issues causing issues like seed shortages. 

Sudbury.com news editor Arron Pickard thoughtfully brought me a pack of tomato seeds earlier in the year when I began threatening to choke people in order to get some. Sudbury, you owe him a debt of thanks. 

But I also knew I would be working more from the office this season, rather than from home as I have for years. I’m no longer able to slip in some weeding on my lunch break, so I decided it might be in my best interest to take it easy and only put in what we’ll eat. 

I somehow ended up with almost twice as many tomatoes as last year. At least my co-workers will benefit from the harvest. A joke I remember from my farmville hometown is that you shouldn’t leave your car windows down. Not because of theft, but because someone will try to sneak zucchini in it, hoping to offload the glut of summer.

I have so many volunteer plants! Apparently, when you don’t effectively clean out your garden in the fall, some of the things you left there will grow again, and you will have so many more plants.  

Of course, here’s the part where I really get to it. 

I didn’t put the garden to bed last year. I didn’t can or ferment or any of the storage tricks I would normally do. I usually gather up everything we grew and anything I can forage for and fill our cellar. We were so lucky to have it at the beginning of the pandemic as we didn’t have to go to the grocery store at all during the first few weeks. (Except for milk and coffee. I’m not a saint.)

I also didn’t get the urge I usually do in February, to pull out my books and the seed catalogue to start planning for the year. 

The first raspberries to come into the patch hurt my heart a little. 

All because of a beautiful black lab mix who stole my heart a decade ago. My gardening buddy, Izzy. She died on October 1, 2020, one day after her birthday. It was sudden, unexpected and heartbreaking.

She would follow me around, happily eating anything that would appear from the garden; her favourites, the raspberries, the green beans and the snap peas. 

The idea of those plants, those tastes, without my Izzy, was too much to bear. 

I honestly didn’t think I would miss the garden this much. I thought I would find the workload easier, the pressure lessened and certainly the Sudbury Market could fill in the flavour gaps. But alas. I actually miss my garden. I miss the single minded pleasures of it. I can’t listen to the incessant noises of my brain when I have to concentrate fully on training vines. I should say, concentrating on not breaking vines, breaking them, swearing, then moving on.   

I miss the food it gives me, the way my niece loves my cucumbers best, the way lettuce tastes when you have to clean slugs and earwigs out of it, the warmth of a tomato eaten fresh from the sun’s heat. My corn, my potatoes, tomatillos, beans, peas and peppers. I miss them all. 

So if you don’t hear from me much come February, know that I am already preparing for the season, with thoughts of my beloved puppy and her love for our backyard grocery store. 

I’m feeling good from my head tomatoes.




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Jenny Lamothe

About the Author: Jenny Lamothe

Jenny Lamothe is a reporter with Sudbury.com. She covers the diverse communities of Sudbury, especially the vulnerable or marginalized.
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