Reader reviews for The $64 Tomato by William Alexander

An entertaining, well-written account of a man and his garden. I have been gardening for several years and have faced the same battles that Alexander has. His humorous accounts of weeds, bugs (not the good kind), four-legged pests, the limits of organic growing and the potential family discord in the garden will bring a smile and nod of recognition from any gardener.This is a quick, light-hearted read, but the stories and philosophising ring true. Alexander is an excellent writer - better than most who take on this subject - allowing the reader to not only enjoy his humorous tales but also delight in the way the tales are told. Obviously, an excellent book for a gardener, who will recognize each trial and tribulation that Alexander describes. I would also recommend it to any long-suffering gardener's significant other, who may get a quick peek into the somewhat crazy psyche of a dedicated gardener.
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Sometimes this book hit me a little too close for comfort, but overall a pretty decent read. His stories felt like the same garden miseries my wife, I, and our friends have experienced collectively - battles with groundhogs (I loved his "Superchuck"), deer, squirrels, and various other varmints. It was disappointing that he couldn't live up to his organic ideals, but I guess those are the choices we all have to make.
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Being a straw mulcher and a strong advocate of the conservation importance of keeping soil covered I found this city greenhorn slightly annoying as he kept pursuing his visually aesthetic (and way expensive) garden with it's bare earth. I felt like he got whatever was coming to him in terms of interminable weeding, constant watering, and plant health. Then he really lost me when he talked about leaving animals in Havaheart traps to die. What kind of idiot was this?However, in the end his perspective on long term gardening, food, and family life is graceful and moving.
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This book is not particularly well written although somewhat entertaining. I cannot recommend it, however, due to the author's inhumane, and lighthearted attitude towards animal control. This totally ruined the book for me as I believe it would for any animal lover.
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William Alexander and his physician wife buy a three-acre rather neglected property and plan for how to convert it into a food and flower-producing garden. The way the author describes his adventures while doing this are absolutely hilarious. Anyone who has ever done any vegetable gardening will easily identify with the author’s aspirations as well as his problems as he first designs his garden and then begins to create it to his own specifications. Suddenly, along come the animals, then insects, and then... Well, you get the picture. This organic farmer wannabe has to decide how pesticide laden he wants his crops to be in order for him to bring in a decent size harvest. I’m well aware that animals can be the amateur farmer’s nemesis, but I really wasn’t prepared for the animal cruelty espoused by this author in his otherwise funny book. If you are an animal lover but think you can handle reading such passages, then I would give you the go-ahead on this book. It is highly entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny in most other places. If I were a writer, I’d probably tell my garden story in exactly the same way.
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I liked this one a lot. It was so funny that I could identify with many of the man's dilemmas. Ironic that such a stress relieving hobby could prove to be so emotion packed. This was a good side trip from my usual line-up of to be read books.
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Alexander's greatest strengths are his ability to maintain a breezy tone and convey a sense of place without getting bogged down (so to speak) in overwrought description. You come away with a feeling for him, his family, his garden. Having said that, there were several times in the book where I found myself wondering whether things really had happened as he said, or whether there was some exaggeration afoot. Maybe that's because he comes off in the book as someone who tended to want to take the easy way. Interestingly, I didn't find myself liking him that much. OK, maybe it was a little jealousy at the mind-boggling amount of discretionary income that he had to throw at his garden. (Top gardening tip: Marry a doctor.) But it's a testament to the writing style that even as I grew more exasperated at him, I still kept reading to see how it turned out.
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I thought this book was going to be funnier than it turned out to be. There wasnt a whole lot that I read about that I didnt already know about gardening. I found all his garden woes relatable, and therefore aggravating, since I could feel what he was feeling (which actually made it kinda upsetting to read). And I've had so many of my own garden problems that it seems like I could write a book myself, and it would be more on topic.
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A Quick and fun little read. I loved gardening vicariously through this man's trials and tribulations in his garden. Some of this is hilariously funny, sometimes you think he's just plain nuts. Very enjoyable. Gets ya thinking about where all our food comes from anyway.
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The Larry David of gardening. Sometimes it hurts too much, and you'll need to leave the room.
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