I always plant “sacrificial” tomatoes in our backyard for deer. This year, I decided to plant them in the rental house backyard (which is next door to ours). Deer and other critters have nibbled on the plants off and on, but the plants have grown and grown and grown. In fact, they’re taller than the lovely barbed wire fence that separates the yard from the park.
A month or so ago, I was back there harvesting the tomatoes I could reach. A woman walking by with her dog stopped to ask if I wanted her to hand me the ones I couldn’t reach through the fence. I laughed and told her to take them if she likes tomatoes. “Really?,” she asked. “Yes, please please please help yourself!,” I begged.
We realized we were talking through the really tall tomato plants, so we took a few steps to the side so we could see each other and introduced ourselves. Monica used to live on a farm with her husband and kids. After he died a few years back, she sold the farm and moved into the city to be closer to her children and grandchildren. She told me how much she loves her daily walks in the park and, in particular, how much she admires the flowers, plants, and trees in both our yard and the rental yard. Monica also told me how much she misses eating her own homegrown tomatoes. We both agreed that there’s almost nothing better to eat.
It took a bit of persuading, but she eventually filled her pockets with tomatoes. A few days later, I was out back again at the same time as Monica and her dog. She waved and told me how happy the tomatoes made her and how delicious they were.
I don’t see her every day. But, on the days I do see her, her pockets are full of tomatoes. And she makes sure to tell me how happy she is to have access to them.
Gardening, and specifically vegetable gardening, takes a certain amount of work (understatement of the year!) and passion. I put a lot of both—and a HUGE amount of love—into everything I grow. I love sharing with family and friends. But sharing with a stranger, who is now no longer a stranger…that’s the power of gardening!