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The $64 Tomato

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The State (South Carolina)
Perhaps a few pansies wilting near the front door are the best you can do. Perhaps you can only brag that you haven’t — yet — killed the azaleas planted and nurtured a few homeowners before you. Even so, read "The $64 Tomato."

You don’t have to be a gardener to enjoy and learn from William Alexander’s derring-do. You don’t have to know a shuffle hoe from a reel mower to laugh out loud...

"The $64 Tomato" combines memoir and philosophy and gardening do’s and don’ts and the history of apples and potatoes and tomatoes and the Anasazi cliff dwellers into a beautifully written narrative about Alexander’s kitchen garden...

The book is a little bit of a thriller, too. Will anyone claim the backhoe stuck in clay? Will Lars survive the tractor and disc? ("He raced off, tearing around the field like a kid in a go-cart, ripping up the earth, sending clods of grass and earthworms flying.")

Will Alexander conquer the weeds, waiting for light and air "to sprout and dominate"? Will he conquer tent caterpillars, cedar-apple rust, sod webworms, Japanese beetles?

...And so on, through another bushel of Brandywine tomatoes. And yes, he does a little figuring and one terrible year for gardening, his garden yields 19 tomatoes (after the groundhog eats) at about $64 a tomato. Is it worth it? For readers, for sure.