Tools to grow tomatoes

My exit out of Iowa happened almost faster than I could have imagined. I made a trip out to California to visit a friend in mid-April, and at the time, my party line was that I was looking for jobs and might move out here, might not.

Two weeks later, I flew out for an interview. Two weeks after, I flew out to find an apartment. Two weeks additional, and I was walking through the door of my new place.

This weekend will mark my second in the area, and it still feels more like I’m on some kind of vacation, or work trip, or something—I am constantly having these moments where I catch myself thinking I’m just a visitor, just passing through, bound for the airport any day now.

A few people asked me what I was going to do with my plants. Dig them up? Take them with me? Well, besides the lavender plant, the truth is that I didn’t have anything but annuals planted, and the idea of digging up a bunch of lettuce to carry with me in the car simply wasn’t appealing. I love to eat lettuce, and therefore I refuse to develop a personal relationship with it.

But I am a woman who likes her stuff, and so I expected to want to take all my garden accoutrements with me.

As I found myself taking inventory of the various tools, pots, stakes and cages in my possession, I was surprised to discover I didn’t really have that much attachment to any of them, and to be honest, I didn’t have time to get them all cleaned in time to feel like they were worth packing.

There were some things I kept, of course—for two Christmases in a row, Susan has given me great gardening gifts: monogrammed gloves this past year, and a really cute little gardening toolkit the year before. Those made it into the packing rotation. But the big stuff? Because I knew so little about what my gardening situation would be when I landed in the East Bay, it just didn’t make a lot of sense to take them all with me.

I have long been a fan of Freecycle, and its mission to keep things out of landfills that might otherwise end up there, and so that’s where I turned. I emailed a woman asking for pots and gave her a heads up that I had a bunch available. Within a couple of days, all my pots made their way out of my driveway in the back of her car.

Tools to Give AwayThen I saw someone post that they were looking for a garden shovel, so I wrote the woman to tell her I had one available, and, incidentally, was she looking for anything else? She wrote me back to tell me her 11-year-old wanted to learn to garden, and she wanted to help him, so anything would be helpful. I gathered up what I had left and leaned it all against the front porch.

The woman’s father came to pick everything up on one of the days I was home packing. “Really? All this?” he said. “This is great.”

We carried it to his car, where he told me he and his wife were visiting from Maryland. “My daughter’s a single Mom,” he said. “She’s got two boys, so she can use a lot of help. She’s going to put all this to good use. She wants to grow tomatoes.”

Truth is, I would have given the tools away to anyone who wanted them. But I’m glad they went to someone who really needed them—especially to someone who wanted to use them to pass on the gift of a fresh, homegrown tomato to her kids.

23 Responses to “Tools to grow tomatoes”


  1. 1 Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) June 5, 2008 at 5:34 am

    It sounds like your garden tools have found a perfect home. And so have you.

  2. 2 inadvertentgardener June 5, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Lydia, thanks — I’m always pleased when things work out for the best…

  3. 3 Kalyn June 5, 2008 at 7:39 am

    What a great story!

  4. 5 Zannie June 5, 2008 at 10:40 am

    I <3 Freecycle!

  5. 6 Roshani June 5, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Great story Genie! I don’t have any tomato stakes and cages, but will see if I can get them soon.

  6. 7 Michelle June 5, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    Glad to hear that your gardening stuff lives on.

    Does this mean we’ll all have to mail you tomatoes?

  7. 8 hotfessional June 5, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    How perfect. Absolutely perfect. I thought about you when I planted my five tomato plants. I really did.

  8. 9 Eva June 5, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    Love, love, love this story!

  9. 10 gillie June 6, 2008 at 5:37 am

    Freecycle is a wonderful thing. I love seeing our unwanted things go to real homes. I bet that little boy will be telling people about his amazing garden tool collection for years and years, long after the last handle has broken on the last trowel.

  10. 11 inadvertentgardener June 6, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Zannie, isn’t it a great (loosely organized) organization?

    Roshani, you’re definitely going to need them, and the sooner you can get them in, the better.

    Michelle, you may have to mail me tomatoes this year, which is making me a little bereft…still working on that!

    Hotfessional, I’m glad you did — it’s an honor!

    Eva, thanks…it made me smile.

    Gillie, I sure hope so. And yes — Freecycle is terrific!

  11. 12 writer reading June 6, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    As someone in the process of emptying out an entire basement of books, furniture, clothes, I greatly appreciate this story and its reminder of freecycle.

  12. 13 Catherine June 6, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Welcome to the Left Coast. I hope you’ll be very happy here.
    A reader from Silicon Valley

  13. 14 inadvertentgardener June 7, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Writer reading, I definitely recommend a little Freecycle action for that basement — you’ll be amazed at what people will come get!

    Catherine, thanks so much for the welcome…and for reading!

  14. 15 Sneha June 7, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Hi Genie,
    Your blog is aweeeeeeeesome! I have a question to ask, but I worry you’ll get mad at me.

    For the past two weeks, I’ve been working through your blog-in chronological AND reverse chronological order-and can’t help but notice how often Steve is mentioned in your earlier posts and now…. where is he?

    I’m being a busybody I know….sorry.

  15. 16 inadvertentgardener June 7, 2008 at 9:40 pm

    Sneha, it’s a good question, and no, I definitely won’t get mad at you! Steve and I parted ways about a year ago — the post that probably deals most directly with that is The letting go.

  16. 17 OZ John June 8, 2008 at 1:24 am

    OK Genie,
    time to come clean.
    DC to Iowa, Iowa to California … there is clearly a pattern developing here.
    I figure we will see you in Australia around 2012 after your time in Hawaii.
    You will be most welcome.
    John.

  17. 18 inadvertentgardener June 8, 2008 at 7:48 am

    OZ John, don’t tell my mother about the grand plan — she might not take that kindly! Hey…there’s something to be said for never looking back, and always moving in a forward (or westward?) direction…

  18. 19 Susan June 9, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    I’m glad your supplies found such a worthy home. Also, I think it’s okay you took the gardening gloves with your initials since it’s very unlikely the boy has the same monogram as you. ;-)

  19. 20 inadvertentgardener June 9, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Susan, it’s not only unlikely he has the same monogram, he would have had to fight me for them — I love those gloves!

  20. 21 jan June 17, 2008 at 7:30 am

    I think those tools have found a great home. We can now dream of the single mom’s success with her garden, her children learning the love of gardening, and the grandpa being proud. It’s fun to pass things along and then dream of the happiness those things bring the new owners. Good luck in your new adventure.

  21. 22 inadvertentgardener June 19, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Jan, it is fun to harbor those dreams — you’re totally right.


  1. 1 Tomato growing post review | Upside Down Tomato Blog Trackback on August 29, 2008 at 1:01 pm

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