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Have you ever had a grape tomato plant get away from you? Say you weren’t able to cage it, stake it, or somehow contain it, and it sprawled out so much — and produced so much — that you eventually quit picking the tomatoes? Or maybe you keep on picking, but because of the massive sprawliness of the plant, you can’t help but miss some. Maybe they’re too far out of reach and you don’t want to trample on the plant. Or maybe it’s just such a jungle that you can’t even see the darned tomatoes through the foliage. It happens.

Now imagine you have not one, but six unstaked, uncaged, unconfined in any way, grape tomato plants. Imagine that they take over such a large part of your yard that you secretly start praying for an early frost to kill the buggers. And when that frost doesn’t come — you give up picking and just hope that some uber-gopher will come and rip them down an uber-gopher hole.

None of that happens, of course. Finally, though, there is a frost severe enough to kill them, and you spend a gleeful afternoon clearing out the undergrowth, nose streaming in the cold, hacking and yanking at dead tomato plants with a homicidal fervor. “Take that and that, you rotten things!

They heard you, you know. And in the hacking and pulling and yanking and throwing…a few ripe tomatoes fell to the ground. But you don’t see them. You’re too busy going all Braveheart on the tomato plants. If you could see them, though, they’d be making faces at you and saying, “just you wait, lady.”

Fast forward a few months. You notice a few little tomato seedlings in various places, and you’re not sure if you should move them or just pull them. You’re busy, though, and you leave it for another day, then another…until finally, they’re not seedlings, they’re plants that are too big to move. And they’re blooming. And setting fruit. So you leave them be. You even take the time to cage them, not knowing that their super sprawly tendencies will quickly topple over the cage.

And the little buggers try to take over the garden again. Ladies and gents, I give you: free range tomatoes. (No, really. I’m going to be giving you tomatoes. They’re going to be exploding with fruit pretty soon, and I don’t think even my little tomato hounds will be able to keep up. So if you’re local, and you don’t like grape tomatoes, lock your doors.)

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In my garden, that is.

I’m growing pumpkins this year. I had absolutely no intention of doing so, but there they are.  And it just seems too silly to simply rip them out, especially considering they’ve taken over a place I hadn’t intended for anything else.

You guessed it, they’re growing out of the side of a compost bin, born of seeds from a pumpkin that was tossed into said bin.  A pumpkin that came from The Pumpkin Vine that Ate My Garden last year.   I have no idea if it’ll actually produce pumpkins, but the bees seem to like the bright yellow flowers, and bees are good.  So it stays.

In the other compost bin (because of course I have more than one!) I have a tomato plant out the side, and a spaghetti squash vine growing.  There are also tomato seedlings in the oddest places…

I may be onto something here.  Last year, The Pumpkin Vine that Ate My Garden was planted because there was a little leak in the drip irrigation line.   And in a brilliant (or not) flash, I thought that if I planted something viney, it would a) keep that water from being wasted, and b) prevent weeds from using that water, and (this is the important part) keep them from taking over the garden. Well, the weeds got a toehold before the pumpkin vines took off, and before I knew it, I couldn’t get anywhere in the garden because of the pumpkin vine.  (And why didn’t I just rip out that pumpkin vine? Because it was the only damn thing out there that was actually producing anything.)  And then the aphids came…and all was lost.

But leaving out the aphids, maybe the trick here is to garden unintentionally, to plant things with a “just to be living mulch” mentality, rather than a “this is something I want to eat” mentality.  Hmmm…it’s worth a shot, right?

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