DOUGLAS: Tomatoes thrive with some elbow room

Someone asked the other day how my garden is doing, but I suspect what they really wanted to know was how the tomatoes are doing, angling for my offer to bring them a couple. No one cares how the squash are doing, but the tomato is entrenched atop the vegetable garden hierarchy, right above sweet corn.

I figured that others might be curious as well. Glad you asked.

This year I planted squash, green beans, okra, bell peppers, zucchini, cucumbers and, of course, tomatoes, which chew up a good half of the garden’s 200 square feet. That is enough about the squash, green beans, okra, bell peppers, zucchini and cucumbers, whose yield has continued a decade-long decline and has me totally rethinking my gardening approach.

So, let’s talk tomatoes.

They are, in three words, bigger, better and more delectable than any batch of tomatoes I have produced during my 35 years or so of gardening. I do not know if the ability to produce nice plump tomatoes is a measure of a man’s masculinity, but let me tell you, I am feeling pretty dang virile right now.

There are nine tomatoes perched on my windowsill, either ripe or on the verge, and a similar number on the vine, a day or so away from exchanging the suffocating heat and humidity for 71 degrees and the comfort of my kitchen.

There is also a Tupperware container that has a variety of cherry tomatoes, which serve as snacks throughout the day, being consumed as if they are M&M’s. Those Golden Sweet cherry tomatoes will forever have a corner in my garden.

In an hour or so, one of the large tomatoes will go under the Cutco knife as I enjoy a BLT sandwich and some soup for lunch. By the

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Garden plants that are easy to grow and attractive – they look ’spectacular’ all year

Whether gardeners are planting their first-ever seeds or have a lot of knowledge when it comes to gardening, seeing hard work go to waste when outdoor plants die is not fun. 

Instead, gardeners need to make their life easier by picking those that are happy with a more hands-off approach. 

More challenging varieties can always be added to the garden later as gardeners become more confident.

Gene Caballero, co-founder at GreenPal, has shared several of his “favourite” plants that are “easy to grow” in gardens.

He said: “As the co-founder of GreenPal and someone with decades of experience in landscaping, I’ve got a soft spot for garden plants that are both easy to grow and aesthetically pleasing.”

1. Sunflowers

Sunflowers are great fun for all the family to grow, and yield impressive results with their show-stopping blooms.

The expert said: “These are a joy to grow. They’re hardy, thrive in full sun, and their seeds germinate quickly. 

“Plus, their towering height and large, bright yellow blooms make a spectacular display.”

Although the classic golden-hued varieties are well-loved, there are alternative colours on offer, ranging from deep orange to very pale.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds are “practically foolproof”, according to Gene. They love the sun, aren’t picky about soil, and they add a “brilliant pop of colour” to any outdoor space.

The expert said: “Their distinctive orange and yellow flowers are a vibrant addition to any garden.”

They are equally at home in a container, a flower bed, or even in a vegetable garden. All they need is a sunny spot to grow, making them the perfect plant for beginners.

3. Zinnias

For those after a “low-maintenance flower” that still delivers a “stunning visual”, then “zinnias are for you”, said Gene. 

They come in a wide variety of colours and

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