Post last updated: October 10th, 2018


The $64 Tomato: How One Man Nearly Lost His Sanity, Spent a Fortune, and Endured an Existential Crisis in the Quest for the Perfect Garden by William Alexander dates back to 2006 but I just recently got around to reading it.

I found it both amusing and laugh out loud funny. Sobering, too, when he got around to telling us the math he did to arrive at the $64 tomato. However, both he and his wife were professionals with enough money to pay for garden design, construction, tools and an occasional hired hand. Still, I suspect some of my tomatoes might be worth $10 each when I have back-to-back bad years.

If I had his income, I would be tempted by the “Velcro tomato ties” he mentioned in his list of garden expenses. I found them on Amazon as “Velcro Brand Plant Hook & Loop Ties.”  Thirty feet of one-half inch wide ties will make it “easy to adjust and re-position as the plant grows.” I never found a need to re-position my very inexpensive strips of muslin but I will admit the muslin is hard to cut off at the end of the season.

After it becomes too unbearably hot to work in the garden, may I suggest you crawl in your hammock with something light and fun like The $64 Tomato?


19 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW – $64 TOMATO”

  1. I decided to give up on growing tomatoes this year. I must admit I feel strange not having any to fuss over every day, but then I just get in my car and find a produce stand. I love tomatoes so I’ve decided to budget for them in the summer by giving up ice cream. That should work out, don’t you think?

  2. And I thought I was the only one to grow a $50 tomato plant only to have a squirrel tote an almost perfectly ripe orb to the middle of the back yard and TASTE it. Then, not finding it to his liking, leaving it for me to weep over.

  3. I never bothered to look at the cost (in total) because I garden not to save money but to grow food I want to eat. I also figure I’m learning something. I’m sure several of my failures have plenty of cost associated with them, but at least I’ll never repeat them. I’ve also got hordes of produce that goes to waste each year because it wasn’t harvested in time. I grow too much and I know I do, but I have to if I intend to grow that many varieties each year. I try to share with the neighbors to keep the waste down, but that only goes so far.

    1. Gene – Good to hear from you again. The other reason to grow food, of course, is being able to control pesticide use. Do you have any food banks in your area? I’m sure they’d love the fresh produce for their clients.

  4. Give up ice cream?? I think not…tomato ice cream!! yes, no??
    I love my garden and find myself often thinking of my grandmother. She had a beautiful garden, full of wonderful veggies and flowers and I am willing to bet that she did not go to a garden center and buy bags of dirt and fancy garden ties! I try really hard to stay with the old fashioned way! You know I love it!!!

    1. Not me! I don’t trust that cheap dirt for my planters. I get the 2 cu. ft. of Miracle Grow from Big Lots. Only $8 last year and this year. I buy REALLY cheap cow poop for the veggie garden, tho.

  5. I remember reading this book awhile back! I can probably sympathize, at least with my last garden, since we put in so much work and money for dirt and plants and only ended up living there less than four years. (This time we’d better be here for awhile!)

    Though the main thing I remember about the book is when the author wrote about how sexy the landscaper designer was and wondering what his wife thought about that when she read the book…

  6. My little dog just loves the taste of tomatoes and the plants. She pulled a nice size one off several days ago and brought it in. The first 2 plants that went in the ground she ate!

  7. I have heard of this book but haven’t read it yet. The title makes me laugh, and I can identify. I am sure some of my tomatoes are pricey, but velcro ties? The best ties I ever had were cut up strips from old panty hose. Nice and stretchy; and if I tied them right, I could easily untie them if needed for readjustment.

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