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The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His…
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The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and…

by William Alexander

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5322618,946 (3.53)30
  1. 00
    Enslaved by Ducks by Bob Tarte (sweetbug)
    sweetbug: The two books are similar in tone and themes: both are mildly humorous works by middle-aged men living on small hobby farms in rural(ish) America.
  2. 00
    My Backyard Jungle: The Adventures of an Urban Wildlife Lover who Turned his Yard into Habitat and Learned to Live with It by James Barilla (KarenElissa)
    KarenElissa: Both authors look at the relationship between our love of nature and our modern lifestyle and they both deal with some similar struggles in their quest to interact with nature.
  3. 01
    Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter (SqueakyChu)
    SqueakyChu: A delightful memoir of urban farming
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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Too quick, too superficial, for me. Every challenge felt predictable, as if I'd read it in some other gardening memoir or lived it myself. The bit that bothered me most, I think, was that for all the bitching & moaning, they did wind up with enough produce that they did have to buy a winter refrigerator and give peaches to the food pantry and feel guilty about 'dumping' cucumbers etc. on friends and colleagues. Oh poor things - I'd love to have that problem!

Still, it's a charming read for the right audience. Please, if you're interested in reading it, do so - don't be dissuaded by my personal negativity. Who knows, maybe I'm just green w/ envy because I'm living in an apartment in a desert.... ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
Bill Alexander loves his backyard garden. Maybe a little more than average backyard gardner. The lengths he goes to, in order to protect it from critters, bugs, weeds, and from weather, often result in the humorous anecdotes he relates in this memoir. It's pretty clear that his garden is his pride and joy, his reason d'etre. His wife, his neighbors, and his co-workers all think he's a bit crazy. I think I might agree. Even he realizes that he has crossed the line. He is no hobby gardener, but a gentleman farmer.

Honestly, I don't have a lot to say about this book. The author's exploits in protecting and encouraging his garden are over-the-top and border on the ridiculous, and that is what makes them funny. But his is definitely not your usual backyard garden and it makes him somewhat hard to relate to on a personal level. The book was fairly average, with the occasional bright spot, but I've read several memoirs, that even with an unrelatable narrator, were just better. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
5 stars not because it's an instant classic but because it's a realistic and hilarious memoir that just resonated with me as a, more often than not, struggling and failing gardener. William Alexander has put into book form the constant battle we gardeners have with nature, wildlife, and our selves! Totally enjoyable and even includes a valuable warning at the end....never calculate the cost of your produce!! ( )
  tnociti | Mar 28, 2015 |
Just ok. Loosely connected essays reflecting on 20 years of life and gardening. Not quite funny enough, or insightful enough, or anything else "enough" to make it a candidate for a re-read. The high point probably for me was probably the chapter "No Such Thing as Organic Apples," which weaves together the author's childhood memories of his father's apples, his desire to grow apples, and the reality of growing apples. Despite being a gardener, a gardener with a day job, and a gardener who grows as much food as my space will allow, I found I didn't relate as much as I thought I would. ( )
  charliesierra | Sep 1, 2014 |
Wanting the perfect garden and actually putting in the work to achieve it has been a pipe dream of mine for years. I thought I'd start small with a little herb garden and then when nothing died prematurely, I graduated to a little vegetable bed with minor success. That has lent itself to more grandiose dreams for the rest of the back yard. Chancing across this book will be, I suspect, a life, wallet and sanity-saver.

Hilarious anecdotes abound in this memoir as the author goes from almost electrocuting a contractor because he forgot to switch off his 6000volt electric fence that he had put up trying to keep deer and Superchuck the groundhog out of his vegetable beds, building a meadow which didn't quite live up to his mental picture of the Sound of Music, finding an aggrieved and snarling possum in a trap, developing blisters on top of blisters in his attempt to keep up with the weeding, painting pollen on apple blossoms in order to fertilize them and how a headstone almost became a garden ornament.

There are moments of self-reflection too around how certain bugs are introduced which could destroy a crop all because a rose bush had been planted or because sod had been laid. And what does it really mean to be organic?

At the end lies the truth that I had come to realize. I would like to be a garden hobbyist, not a full-time farmer. And if that means my yard will remain home to weeds and I will continue to purchase most of my produce instead of growing them myself, I can live with that. ( )
  cameling | Jul 21, 2014 |
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Epigraph
I will go to the garden. I will be a romantic. I will sell myself in hell, in heaven also I will be. -- Robert Creeley, "The Door"
There's a fine line between gardening and madness. -- Cliff Claven in Cheers
Dedication
For Anne, Zach, and Katie
And to the memory of my father, William Alexander
First words
"Why can't Dad be more like other dads?" Katie asked my wife recently.
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If you were doomed to live the same life over and over again for eternity, would you choose the life you are living now?
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Bill Alexander recounts the challenges he faced while trying to cultivate his own vegetable garden and offers a cost-benefit analysis of his efforts, determining that it cost him $64 to grow each of his beloved tomatoes.

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