Oct 282009

A few months ago, Craig decided that we were going to grow our own tomatoes in the backyard.

SOUNDS GREAT, HONEY. SURE, I said, after laughing hysterically.

He and Chase ignored my skepticism, as always, and went to the store to buy these funny things.

They explained that out of these little teeny thingamajigs would grow big stalks of some kind that would sprout huge, juicy tomatoes. Uh-huh, I said. And then will we climb the big stalks and visit a giant who lives in the clouds and then ride our unicorns back home? Because that scenario seemed more plausible than our family actually growing anything edible.

But as always, my forever optimistic husband and son forged on, while Tish and I mocked them. And by God, it started looking like they might actually pull off the magic bean trick. Those tiny beans actually turned into little sprouts, which turned into stalks, which the boys planted in the backyard and pruned and loved and “checked” constantly. After school everyday Chase ran outside to check the plant progress. NOTHING YET, he’d report.And then one day he ran back inside giddily and yelled, MOMMY! THERE’S A TOMATO ON ONE OF THE STALKS!!! And I said NO WAY and followed him outside and he was right, there was. And it grew and grew and others popped out and they grew and grew but then the weirdest thing kept happening. The tomatoes would get big and turn yellow and Chase would beg to pick them but I’d say …no, no, they’re not ripe yet – tomatoes are red, honey… so we’d wait and wait. And then one day we’d go outside and discover that our yellow tomato had fallen off the stalk and turned into mush on the ground. And this same thing kept happening over and over again.

It was really depressing actually, and horrifying to Chase, who had worked so hard to bring the magic beans to life, and who has so much faith in the system. Any system, really.

Last week my mom was visiting and asked how the tomatoes were doing. I told her the whole story, how none of the tomatoes would ripen – how they’d just go straight from yellow to mush, how they never even TRIED to be red… how we had the laziest, most clueless tomatoes ever.

And she said … “Honey, do you think maybe they were yellow tomatoes?”

I just need to pause for a moment.


I’m tired.

Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  7 Responses to “Chase and the Magic Bean Stalks”

  1. Hi Glennon- I too have a tomato story. I love fried green tomatoes and when my husband and I were first together he decided to make them for me. He bought some nice, big green tomatoes from a farmers market. They sat on the counter for about a week. One day I came home and the green tomatoes were gone and replaced by red ones. I accusingly asked him where the green tomatoes had gone upset by the fact I had not eaten them yet. What did I think he made them and ate them without me??? Anyway, he told me they turned to red because they got ripe. I completely did not believe him. He even called his mom to explain to me. I was not happy about this. Needless to say my husband shares this story every chance he gets. I guess I was never educated in vegetable rules. Loved your new post! Lisa

  2. Gardening qualifies as yard work, unless hanging dried peppers counts?? Besides, my allergies and aversion to most things outdoorsy won't allow it, especially if it means encounters with four-footed things and creepy crawly things. Keep the princesses laughing indoors and enjoy the tomato salads and stews as the boys go at it again next year.-Chimmy

  3. I dunno Glen, sounds like an awful lot of work… maybe if you can keep it a "guy project" otherwise it might send you right over the edge!

  4. We grow our own tomatos too. They taste so much better. We also grow bell pepper, cilantro, jalapeno peppers and green onions. I also have a lime tree, avacado tree, and pecan tree. It's really pretty cool to just go out in the backyard and pick the stuff I need. This year I've got my heart set on an orange tree. My kids have been wanting to try growing a watermelon so maybe we'll try that. Keep after it Glennon! It actually can be pretty entertaining. Sad huh?Your friend, Mandy B.

  5. I love this story. I myself grew a garden this year. I was out there six months pregnant digging in the dirt, making holes, and dropping little plants in them. By my seven month I was so exhausted that I stopped watering them… then they all died. But I have a really cute baby. The End.

  6. Craig should try again next year. Because of all the rain, it was the worst tomato season ever. I usually get tons of them and I don't even bother to water them – they just grow themselves! But this year I got one. That's right. ONE crappy little red tomato off of THREE plants. The ones that weren't eaten by our animal friends rotted before they ever ripened. I feel your pain.:)MK

  7. I think you can chalk this up to the "guys don't need instructions" category. If they had shown you a package or some instructions with color photos of YELLOW tomatoes, you would have questioned it early in the process and been ready for that outcome.At least you're prepared for next year. Because you know, they won't stop with tomatoes…and if you can convince Tish and Amma that marigolds are fairy princess flowers and plant them around the tomato beds, the marigolds actually help the tomatoes do better with bugs (it's called allopathic gardening).Of course, it is only a matter of time before the deer discover them…Great story – don't tell Chase.

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