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My St. George Garden: Better late than ever

After killing all manner of crops this summer, the current yield from my fledgling raised bed garden is spare.

What I do have, however, is one vigorous, healthy, late-season tomato plant. It’s breadth is that of three tomato plants (why do I suddenly sound like a boastful medieval farmer?).

I’ve enabled the plant to sprawl languidly over a collection of 4 tomato cages. When you observe the tomato cages–with their 4 adjacent round rims–from above, it looks like an insignia for the Olympics of gardening. And the truth is, I’ve come to believe that anyone who makes anything grow in my adopted hometown of St. George is worthy of a gold medal.

As for the condition of the tomato plant, I can’t help sounding like a farmer again, this time an afraid-to-be-hopeful Dust Bowl farmer. “Looks like she’ll give a good crop, if the frost don’t come too soon.”

As hackneyed and hick-neyed as it sounds, it’s true. There are yellow flowers and small green tomatoes. If they make it, and I think they will given the lingering heat, the tomatoes will be all the sweeter for my having waited. I thin they are cherry tomatoes. I lost track in all the carnage. They will be delicious in a salad or added to spaghetti sauce.

Why, you may wonder, did this tomato plant survive when the one I moved twice and traumatized did not? My remaining tomato plant has benefited from my having fully groked the most important thing when it comes to gardening in the desert conditions of Southern Utah: shade.

I have introduced shade, shade and more shade into my raised bed garden, because the St. George sun, unfiltered, kills plants unless they’re sneaky hardy things like succulents, cacti and wildflowers.

Shade mechanisms in my raised bed garden include two busted old hammocks I’ve hung, along with a few other atmospheric fabrics, between shepherd’s crooks. Further bits of dapplement come via a thin bamboo wall I’ve put up and some Tibetan prayer flags strung throughout the yard.

If you look at my toamto cages, you can see occasional bedazzlement.

The busted hammocks and the tomato cages, for instance, are strung with lights, beads and old chandelier crystals.

I have a magpie’s eye for scintillating objects and I”m ready to use it.

Yes, I make jewelry for my garden. My trick is stringing all sorts of disparate beads, many from vintage jewelry picked up from thrifft stores, onto floral wires.

It’s the rare moment in which I manage to achieve a boho-chic lifestyle. Next should come a chicken coop, roomy and touched with the morning sun and then posted with a Nashvile filter. (That particular insta filter makes every photo look pretty as a pinafore.)

The only thing stopping my farm fresh egg production is that I live in a place with a homeowner’s association. Hen clucks and rooster crows may be unwelcome.

–Sarah Torribio

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