Giving a try to some new gardening efforts

Published 7:04 pm Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Year after year of having a garden, I’ve started to learn the ins and outs of the hobby, though I continue to look for ways to better my outcomes. 

As long as I keep up on the basics of gardening — namely watering and weeding — I’ve generally had fairly good success. 

For the past few years, however, I’ve been frustrated with my outcomes for my tomatoes — my plants have produced well, but because I can’t keep my tomato plants from falling over on the ground, I often ended up with many tomatoes that went bad. 

I’ve watched one of my neighbors in the community garden with a little envy, who year after year has what I consider to be great success with his tomatoes, and whose tomatoes stand upright and strong, allowing him to bring in more tomatoes. 

He has a pretty regular regiment for watering and fertilizing, but one major difference between our tomato gardening is that he made wooden tomato cages that are secured with metal stakes.   

After doing a little bit of research online, it looked like some work and investment, but I decided to give it a shot. 

With my parents from Virginia in town visiting and my father also a gardening enthusiast, I figured he might be up for the project. So on Monday, Dad and I set out to make 10, 5-foot-tall tomato cages. 

Thankfully, our wood was pre-cut where we purchased it from to save on that step, and then the only other thing we needed was screws and something for our metal stakes — we chose rebar. 

It took us a fairly decent amount of time to get them all together — about 20 to 30 minutes for each cage — and then later that night we took them over to the garden and got them set up, burying the ends of the cages, pounding a piece of rebar into the dirt next to each cage and then securing them together with zip-ties. 

Now, all I can do is eagerly wait and see how they hold up. 

As most of you know, I could talk forever about the benefits of gardening — it reduces stress and gives you the opportunity for low-impact exercise. Perhaps the most obvious benefit is that you get to eat the produce that you grow. 

This year, particularly, with rising costs of basically everything at the grocery store, I think having the garden will be a big plus. 

I’m hoping to do more canning than ever before and look forward to having a large yield of tomatoes specifically to can salsa and spaghetti sauce. 

If you’ve never gardened, give it a try. 

There are still some plants around and if you get them in the ground soon, you should still be OK time-wise. 

If you don’t have room at your residence for a garden, try a few large pots. You’d be amazed what you can grow. 

Nothing can beat the freshness of produce you’ve grown yourself. 

 Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.