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Stories from the valley

A Season in Our Gardens – honestly, it’s a bit of a competition!

Contributed by Luke Matthews

Contributed by Paul Buttner

Contributed by Tim Johnson

We have to admit that the competition among the garden bloggers is well underway! It started with the last blog when we looked at Luke’s garden and howled about how great it looked. How tall the corn was and that he already had tomatoes set. It may have been the tomatoes that made the rest of us the most envious. They are more than a small benchmark for every gardener.  Here’s an update on how our tomatoes are sizing up to Luke’s!

Diverse Urban Garden – Luke Mathews, Wildlife Program Manager


Luke Mathew's garden

As I started planting my summer garden back in late March, I didn’t anticipate that it would give me such a head start compared to the rest of my coworkers. While I did suffer a few setbacks due to cold weather and slugs, my garden is now flourishing!  

Believe it or not, I’ve already started harvesting. With three Sun Gold tomato plants I’m harvesting a cup of cherry tomatoes every day and I just harvested the first Crookneck squash and green beans. The rest of my garden is also starting to come online with a few varieties of pepper, ‘regular’ tomatoes, okra, basil, sweet corn, melons, and cucumbers all starting to produce. Don’t forget that I also get 5-7 fresh eggs every day! 

As long as I can keep the puppy from digging in my garden beds, I’m confident that I’ll stay in the lead for at least the next few weeks.  

New Garden – Paul Buttner, Environmental Affairs Manager


Paul Buttner's garden

Tomatoes?!  Luke better at growing tomatoes?!  How could he possibly be better at this than me?  I mean, after all, up until this year’s new (and first ever) raised-bed garden I’ve suddenly decided to construct with virtually no experience in such endeavors I’ve never produced a single tomato in my entire life.  Therefore, I’m thinking I have beginner’s luck on my side.  And, if I do say so myself, my tomatoes are looking just FABULOUS!!

Here are a couple of pictures of my plants already cresting the top of their cage.  They’ve been in the ground about two months now and I have 10 beautiful yellow flowers that will be tomatoes (maybe even bigger than Luke’s) by the time of my next blog.  The tomatoes shown here, in what I call my “salad” box, are Early Girls along with other tasty salad ingredients including romaine lettuce, spinach, spring onion and lemon grass.  Yum!!  I also have two more Beef Eater tomato plants on the other end of the garden that were intentionally planted later to extend my ripe tomato time window.

So, take that Luke the Tomato Whisperer!  

Large Rural Garden – Tim Johnson, President & CEO


Tim Johnson's garden

Let’s be honest I’m never going to win this competition. It appears my coworker Luke is a gardening savant! He is killing it while I’m struggling to get plants growing and fighting pests. 

My only real hope is to lap him on quantity. With 10 tomato plants and two tomatillos, I’m sure I can out produce him. The victory however will come about a month after he starts his tomato harvest!

Here are a couple of pictures of my plants. I found the first flowers earlier this week after the warm weather. It will be 30-45 days before I see a ripe tomato. 

Maybe I can get him on the watermelon!