Food That Tells a Story

There is a story behind all food products. Whether purchased from a local grocery store, farmers market, restaurant, or small farmer, it all comes with a story.

The difference between food grown in my personal garden and food I pick up from the store is that I typically know the entire story of what comes out of my garden. I like that. I like it a lot! You feel a sense of pride in knowing that you successfully supplied your family with at least a portion of their produce. Garden food gains you new experiences and life lessons. Placing a harvest from the garden on the dinner table can give the entire family a little extra joy. It’s something to converse about, look forward to, learn from, and share with others.

Garden food gives you memories to think back on as you partake in the harvest. It grants you a greater appreciation for the food that you’ve grown because you know every challenge that came along with it.


I’d like to illustrate what I mean when I say, “food that tells a story”, by sharing the chronicle behind our tomato plants. This year’s crop means a lot to me in a very special way, so I hope that you’ll pour a cup of something warm, cozy on up, and let me tell you all about it!


Food That Tells a Story | Our Tomato Plants

Starting From Seed: Attempt #1

We started our tomato plants from seed way back in February. They sprouted up, grew to be three or four inches tall, and then stopped. The little guys turned yellow, began to shrivel up, and simply wouldn’t grow any more. Completely stunted.

Starting From Seed: Attempt #2

After this failed first attempt, we tried again towards the end of March. This is a bit late to get seedlings started, but I’d rather be a bit behind than pay $2-$4 per plant at the hardware store! We planted the second round of seeds in new soil and they thrived!

Transplanting to Larger Containers

The seedlings grew for a little over a month before it was time to transplant them into larger containers, so we placed each start in a red solo cup, and waited for warmer temperatures to arrive.

Transplanting Into the Garden: Part 1

This is the most special portion of this story. My husband and I woke as early as we could on Saturday, May 7th so that we could get as much planting accomplished as possible. I was very, very pregnant. In fact, baby #2 was due in less than a week from this day! Unfortunately, my state of discomfort meant that I wouldn’t be much help in the planting process this year, so a majority of the work was on my husband.

I was able to place all 40 something of the tomato starts, still in their red solo cups, in a wagon and roll it around to the garden. It seemed quite ridiculous at the time, but this task left me aching in the back, sore in the legs, and tired all over! I felt completely useless (I know that I most definitely wasn’t, but it’s hard for a highly motivated personality like me to sit and watch someone else do the work I’d love to do)!

My husband worked incredibly hard to get those plants in the ground and finally called it a day in the early afternoon. He’d been able to transplant half of the starts, so we both decided that the task could be completed the next day…but little did we know that baby had another idea!

I went into labor a few hours after we ceased our garden work. Sunburned, tired, and sore all over, I delivered our second son, Theo, at 4:40 a.m. on Sunday, May 8th. Needless to say that the rest of those starts didn’t get planted when we originally planned!

Transplanting Into the Garden: Part 2

We arrived back home with our youngest son and I had an incredible amount of energy. I’d spent the last 9 months exhausted and unable to do as many things as I wanted to, so I felt like a new person afterwards! I convinced my husband to get the rest of the tomato starts in the garden the weekend after Theo was born so that they wouldn’t be too far behind the first batch.

Again, Jacob did most of the work for obvious reasons, but I was able to help at least a little bit more than I had the previous week. Another few hours in the garden and all of the plants were in the cool spring soil.

General Maintenance

This portion of the story is not at all exciting, but many valuable lessons arose along the way. We dealt with a horrible infestation of hornworms, fought off the early signs of blight, tied up branch…after branch…after branch on each plant, watered, and weeded all summer long.

Harvest

And the day finally arrived to partake of all this difficult work. Thus far, we have grown enough tomatoes to supply our family with a year’s worth of tomato sauce. This was a goal I set last year and didn’t quite get there, but we did it this time!

Our plants are far from finished. We plan to use the remainder of our tomato harvest for canning diced tomatoes.


And that sums up the story behind this year’s tomato plants. I so enjoy being able to link these memories with the tomato sauce we’ve put away.

Instead of pulling a random jar from the grocery store that has very little meaning or story behind it for me, I will continue to think back to everything that went into our homemade sauce.

As I spent many hours in the kitchen preparing my tomato sauce, my mind continued to wander back to the day we planted our tomatoes…how I was in the early stages of labor without even realizing it…how my son was born a few short hours later.

Looking back on that day made me smile as I worked.

Remembering the story behind our home-grown food gives me an abundance of appreciation for how much goes into one small pint jar of food.

It’s the stories like these that motivate me to keep gardening.

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