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The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden

by William Alexander

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
6643634,362 (3.58)30
Biography & Autobiography. Nonfiction. Humor (Nonfiction.) HTML:

This "wildly entertaining" memoir recounts the joys‚??and horrors‚??of trying to grow your own food (The Boston Globe).

Bill Alexander had no idea that his simple dream of having a vegetable garden and small orchard in his backyard would lead him into life-and-death battles with groundhogs, webworms, weeds, and weather; midnight expeditions in the dead of winter to dig up fresh thyme; and skirmishes with neighbors who feed the deer and other vermin. Not to mention the vacations that had to be planned around the harvest, the near electrocution of the tree man, the limitations of his own middle-aged body, and the pity of his wife and kids.

When Alexander runs a cost-benefit analysis, adding up everything from the live animal trap to the Velcro tomato wraps, and then amortizing it over the life of his garden, it comes as quite a shock to learn that it cost a staggering $64 to grow each one of his beloved Brandywine tomatoes. But as any gardener will tell you, you can't put a price on the unparalleled pleasures of providing fresh food for your family.

"Engaging, funny, and down-to-earth." ‚??Entertainment Weekly

"A hilarious horticultural memoir." ‚??Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A delightful guide to achieving gardening bliss." ‚??Minneapolis Star-T
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    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.
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    SqueakyChu: A delightful memoir of urban farming
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» See also 30 mentions

English (35)  German (1)  All languages (36)
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
Very enjoyable! Kind of like Bill Bryson in a garden.

I'm not the least bit interesting in gardening so it's odd that I would read this book but the title just struck me funny so I picked it up at the library and read it in just a couple of days.

It's well written, funny, and it kind of makes me want to plant some tomatos next summer! ( )
  hmonkeyreads | Jan 25, 2024 |
Somewhere around 3.5 stars. It wasn't great but it has funny moments and the writing kept me engaged which is why I gave it 4 stars. ( )
  Fatula | Sep 25, 2023 |
Of course I had to read this. It sounded like the story of my life. This book was so humorous and relatable. I wanted so bad to give it a 5-star, but right smack in the middle of the book, he went off on a historical tangent on how the tomato and potato got to where they are today...4-5 eye-glazing pages long, beginning in the 1500's to present day. Otherwise, very engaging! ( )
  MissysBookshelf | Aug 27, 2023 |
I did like this book but it wasn't quite what I was expecting. Don't you hate it when that happens? This year is my first year with a real vegetable garden and it's much harder than I thought it would be. This book basically cemented the belief that it will always just be much harder than I thought. LOL.

Anyway, a good book to give you a peek into the obsessive compulsive nature of growing your own food. It also gave me a bit of insight into what was wrong with my apple tree. Turns out, it's cedar rust. Thank you! ( )
  beentsy | Aug 12, 2023 |
Tremendously funny book about gardening. Alexander gives us chapters about different events that happen in his garden, from the planning and building to the battles with wildlife to the benefits of the harvest. A must-read for all gardeners. He complains a lot about the problems in his garden but doesn't ever try any of the solutions he thinks of...in part because that's against his credo as an attempting-organic gardener. Still there's much to enjoy here. ( )
  Jeff.Rosendahl | Sep 21, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
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Canonical title
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Important events
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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.
Quotations
If you were doomed to live the same life over and over again for eternity, would you choose the life you are living now?
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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Biography & Autobiography. Nonfiction. Humor (Nonfiction.) HTML:

This "wildly entertaining" memoir recounts the joys‚??and horrors‚??of trying to grow your own food (The Boston Globe).

Bill Alexander had no idea that his simple dream of having a vegetable garden and small orchard in his backyard would lead him into life-and-death battles with groundhogs, webworms, weeds, and weather; midnight expeditions in the dead of winter to dig up fresh thyme; and skirmishes with neighbors who feed the deer and other vermin. Not to mention the vacations that had to be planned around the harvest, the near electrocution of the tree man, the limitations of his own middle-aged body, and the pity of his wife and kids.

When Alexander runs a cost-benefit analysis, adding up everything from the live animal trap to the Velcro tomato wraps, and then amortizing it over the life of his garden, it comes as quite a shock to learn that it cost a staggering $64 to grow each one of his beloved Brandywine tomatoes. But as any gardener will tell you, you can't put a price on the unparalleled pleasures of providing fresh food for your family.

"Engaging, funny, and down-to-earth." ‚??Entertainment Weekly

"A hilarious horticultural memoir." ‚??Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A delightful guide to achieving gardening bliss." ‚??Minneapolis Star-T

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Average: (3.58)
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