Growing Tomatoes Starts with Swallowing Pride

I’m surrounded by people who grow their own vegetables. While I’d rather my children didn’t think their vegetables grew in the grocery store, I can’t even grow a simple sunflower without it wilting a slow and sad death. I love the idea of growing my own food, just as I like the idea of writing a novel, both of which need to be a priority in a life which has other priorities.

My friend Erin has the most amazing food garden on her Quamichan Lake acreage. She grows everything from raspberries to potatoes and a whole bunch of yummy fruits and vegetables in between. She cans, freezes and prepares everything she grows; there is little waste. In my house, we throw away out-of-date yogurt, moldy bread, freezer-burned meats. Not always, but enough to make me think we can do better. I intend to learn from Erin’s great food practices — to reap something of what she sows. And to hopefully show my children that food waste isn’t cool.

The Easter Bunny (my mother) gave us an upside-down tomato planter, so for my first growing project I am going to plant tomatoes. From what I’ve been told it’s a fail-safe vegetable/fruit, but then that’s what the Garden Store lady said about the sunflower…

Erin recommended I choose “determinate starters” (vs. those wild and crazy indeterminates). These are new terms to me, though they rolled off Erin’s tongue as easily as if she’d been talking about the weather. I feel a bit phony saying them out loud.

Which is why last weekend I approached one of the plant growers at the Downtown Duncan Farmers’ Market to ask, “My husband asked me to pick up determinate tomato starters?” For my husband? So weak.

The stall I approached didn’t have any starters yet. It’s the Universe’s way of testing my resolve as a tomato grower: if I’m worried about looking silly asking for the starters, then I’m not cut out for the bigger challenge of growing the bloody things. Universe: 1; Me: 0.

This Saturday, I will return to the Farmers’ Market and ask properly, pride carefully tucked into my back pocket.


  1. Maeve,
    You are funny! Just reading your blog, you give me too much credit!! Perhaps you and girls could have some room in the garden yourselves, it would be fun! Think about it, could be a weekly gardening party!

  2. OK what a great blog-are you hired by the city of Cowichan or what’s the deal? I can’t wait to read more. Kids are sleeping…so I better get reading. I may get a green thumb by osmosis reading your blog?

    1. Not hired by Cowichan; just so in love with the place that I have to brag about it.

      Hey, if I’m able to grow tomatoes then so are you. I’ll race you to see who gets the biggest, best bunch of the summer…

      #6 PBB

  3. Hi Maeve,

    You might want to check out Makaria farm’s tomato plant sale this Sunday from 10am until 2pm:

    Providence always has nice starters too.

    I intend to go — I’ll give you a call! I like indeterminates because I like to feast regularly on toasted tomato sandwiches. Determinates are great for canning and sauce-making. Mmmm, I can taste them already.

    1. I saw Heather from Makaria Farm last night and she told us all about the Tomato Plant Sale. She was full of great ideas about all things food.

      I’ve planted my upside-downers so we’ll see how things progress!


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