Let’s get together and ketchup

By Melanie Yingst

With summer winding down, I’m starting to panic, I mean, plan things to do to keep myself, my dog, and the 12-year-old occupied this upcoming fall and winter season.

In fact, Evan and I had cabin fever so bad, we researched and YouTubed garden videos all winter long.

Growing up in the country, my grandparents had the most amazing garden. Grandma Norma Jean even recalls tending to that huge garden — all by hand, no machines.

They grew a little bit of everything in this huge, neat block of dirt. Each row was neat as a pin. They would have my sister and I help sow the seeds or pluck weeds. I’m sure when vegetables started to appear, they had to hold us back from harvesting too early.

I remember helping shelling peas and snapping green beans on the porch.

I’ll also never forget the time my grandfather plucked a huge, green tomato worm off the plant and teased us with it.

He then tossed it on the ground and ended its tomato robbing life.

The green innards of this tomato worm ended up splattering all over my face. I just remember screaming and screaming like it was certain death that this worm was full of toxic goo that was going to eat away at my skin.

Can you tell I’m still slightly traumatized? I kinda still am, thankyouverymuch.

Despite the lone tomato worm incident, I always envied those who had that gardener’s touch. As I wind my way through the country, I always spot someone’s neat little garden all green and full of fresh produce. While in years past, I’ve always been too late to jump on the gardening band wagon, last winter I made a vow to not let this season pass me by.

I asked Evan what types of vegetables he’d like us to attempt to grow this summer. The only vegetable Evan even considered was tomatoes. He picked tomatoes so we could learn how to make ketchup since that’s basically the only vegetable-based food he enjoys.

Tomatoes are also one of the hardest vegetables to grow. Ok, that’s just my opinion, but I thought we’d give it a shot.

So I bought all the seeds, the dirt, the starting trays and everything my Pinterest board suggested to begin.

Well, my little farmhouse lacks one of the most critical components of growing plants — sunshine. So I found a semi-sunny spot upstairs and set up shop.

At first, things were going well. I was elated to see sprouts. Then I was totally pumped when the plants leafed out.

I was so excited. I was growing my own food! I had a green thumb after all.

And then, they all died.

And when I say all, I mean they all up and keeled over.

I was so bummed. But I researched what I had down wrong and I guess I didn’t transplant them fast enough into bigger pots to have more space for their roots. At least that’s what my autopsy of the roots and stems concluded.

Rookie mistake. (Feel free to send me any tips, folks).

So for six weeks I had tended these plants and my lack of knack wiped them out in one fell swoop.

By that time, Evan had his 4-H lambs and the whole gardening moment kind of passed.

Then a few weeks ago, the mayor Christiansburg, stopped by my mother’s house with a sack full of cherry tomatoes which are one of my favorites. Mayor Chuck also remembered that I loved his bright, sunny yellow “sunshine” tomatoes and gifted them to my mother as well.

The yellow ones lasted a day. I ate them like popcorn all day long. And I never had to get off the sofa to weed, fight off insects or varmints.

I, too, have my own garden connections. I’ve been blessed with great neighbors who are so good at growing their own tomatoes. I came this week when an entire pile of sun-riped tomatoes right off the vine sitting on my bench

I’ve been blessed with great neighbors who also have a knack growing their own tomatoes. I came home this week to huge pile of sun-riped red tomatoes right off the vine sitting on my bench

My neighbor had unloaded a bucket full of tomatoes because their harvest was more than they could enjoy themselves.

And I didn’t have to lift one green thumb.

Well folks, wish me better luck next spring. But if something should go awry again, at least I can count on my neighbors to share the (tomato) wealth.


By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing!

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing!