The Tomato Massacre of 2018

“A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.” ~ Liberty Hyde Bailey

It all started 2 weeks ago at a party. I invited my favorite gardeners, Erin and Moses, from St. Simon’s Farm to the party. As we were enjoying refreshments and watching the small child run around like a crazy man – I took Erin and Moses for a tour of my garden.

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They immediately noticed my tomato plants. The tomato plants had been growing literally like a weed – there were branches everywhere and they had gotten to be almost as tall as I am. I was very proud of how abundant they looked and excited to show them to Erin and Moses. Always helpful, Moses gave me some advice about my tomato plants.

Moses looked at the tomato plants and gave a disapproving stare as he began to explain my problem. For tomato plants to be prolific, he explained, I would need to cut them back and streamline them. If the tomato plant is busy using its energy to keep making these long branches and leaves, it wouldn’t have enough energy left for a large harvest of tomatoes.

That was not what I was expecting. My big beautiful tomato plants were too big and beautiful? I was having a tantrum in my head. So like most things I don’t like to hear – I decided to put it in the back of my mind and deal with it later… For 2 weeks, every time I went in the garden (which is every day) I stared at the tomato plants. The more I stared the more I realized that Moses must be right. The branches were starting to break off themselves, and the leaves at the bottom of the branches were starting to turn yellow and die. Some clean up was necessary.

So yesterday, I finally took the plunge and started to clean up the tomato plants. With every cut, I was close to tears. So many branches, some with tomato flowers, some with some actual tomatoes all chopped off and tossed to the side. Moses said I could replant these branches but I had no more room in my garden plot for them. It was a massacre. Literally a garden massacre had occurred.

Later in the day, as I walked through my garden showing it to a friend, I realized how right Moses was. My tomato plants actually looked happy and healthy. There were no dead leaves, no sprawling branches, just healthy looking tomato plants still with many flowers and tomatoes growing on them. Again I am reminded just how many life lessons gardening can teach us. Just like the tomato plants it is important to cut away damaging acquaintances, friends or even activities so that we can reach our true potential. This is another lesson I am learning and working on as I grow older. It is ok to say no sometimes so that you can make sure you are surrounding yourself with people and things that help you grow instead of things that prohibit you from being fruitful. Its that extra effort and pruning that is necessary for true success.

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Green Beans are Sketchy

“Why shouldn’t you tell a secret in the garden? – Because the potatoes have eyes, the corn has ears and the green beans stalk….” ~ Unknown

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The green beans in my garden are sketchy, ninja vegetables… Green beans grow on a bush or a vine – I have both types in my garden. The Bush green beans, however, are the ones you should really look out for..

Green beans have large green leaves and produce little delicate white flowers. Then out of nowhere baby green beans start to emerge from the flowers. After the baby green beans appeared in my garden, I was excited but figured it would be awhile until they reached full size (I mean I have been waiting for my tomatoes to turn red for weeks now!). Then all of a sudden, like a ninja stalker, full grown green beans jumped out at me while I was watering. You know green beans are ready to eat when they are bright green and snap easily when bent. It is important to note that when a green bean is full grown and tender – you only have a little while to pick it or else it will go to seed, become hard and inedible. You need to be on your A-game in order to harvest green beans while they are edible.

Health Benefits of Green Beans: A serving a green beans is about 1/2 cup or 10 green beans. Green beans are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin K and fiber.

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Picking green beans is the other problem I have with this sketchy vegetable. They are such a sneaky vegetable. After you pick the string beans you should store them in a porous plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week. This is the plan (this is always the plan) – pick the beans, store the beans and then partake in wonderful dishes with the beans. img_7855But the sketchy, ninja green beans are not having this plan. When we go to pick them, its like they put a spell on small child and I. Green beans are one of the few types of beans that can be eaten raw straight from the garden. After we pick them, these enticing vegetables, karate jump into our mouths and we regularly eat them before leaving the garden. We sit on the hammock snacking on our green beans while staring out at the garden and listening to the wind chimes and don’t realize what the green beans have done until it is too late and there are not enough green beans to bring back to the refrigerator.

I would love to provide you with a variety of delicious green bean recipes and tell you I have tried them. Recipes like:

But alas – I haven’t gotten to try them. The ninja green beans keep winning. Keep checking back to The Flamingo Garden and hopefully one day soon we will beat the green beans at their own game and will transform them into delicious side dishes. But until that day you can find small child and I on the hammock munching away on our green beans while listening to the wind chimes…

Happy planting and eating!

~ The Gardening Dietitian