My siblings aren’t competitive about dogs or gardening. No, not at all, which is why my brother keeps emailing me pictures of his vegetable garden and poems and stories about how this year he’s got a  grade “A” plot.

So I told him I’d blog about his great garden to make him happy. After all,  grumpy lawyers need happiness in the form of great homegrown tomatoes, endless abundance of zucchini and other garden produce. A garden is a great outlet for stress relief. To me nothing could be more peaceful than working a long Saturday pruning, watering and planting in the garden. Also, cooking and eating the food you grow is a great byproduct of the joy gardening brings. I also enjoy feeding caterpillars to the chickens—get ‘em girls.

My brother, who is much older ( I don’t know why I say that here, but it seems to tie in. I’m trying to say he is very wise.) Anyway, he says gardening is genetic, and I wonder if this is true. Perhaps. I’d love to know what you think. I can’t say because obviously, as I’ve written, gardening runs in my family. All of my three siblings garden and have their own specialty. Wildflowers and vegetables for the mountain woman, whose winters are snowy so her growing season is short; herbs, roses and flowers for the preschool teacher who lives in desert dwellings; and of course, my brother, who is famous for tomatoes grown in the urban jungles of Phoenix, Arizona.  Just look at his pictures and you will agree.

He taught me that there are two kinds of tomato plants—a “determinate” type and the indeterminate type. I had one of the indeterminate type in my front yard once. It would not die. It was an heirloom and made beautiful purple fruits. It quit producing in winter but kept growing and growing lush green foliage until one day, I don’t know why, I pulled it out. I should have transplanted it, but I didn’t.  Now I wish I had.

I thought homegrown tomatoes mean instant sweetness, but I now have one in a pot that makes the worst tasting tomatoes. It makes a lot of them, but they are garbage. Maybe because they were grown in a pot. Who knows. Hey, brother, do you know? If you answer, I will know that you read this.

To make my brother happy, here are his photos and his poem.

See how high the tomato tree grows,

into the sky like hairs from my nose.
If it was a bean stalk, I’d be Jack,
But instead no tomatoes I lack.
So gather ’round and we’ll sing a tomato song
Put the soup on and we’ll be along
to grill sandwiches so cheesy

and slurp soup that makes me queasy.

Here is his tomato tree:

Here is the harvest — already!

I like the fence around his garden to keep out his tomato-eating dachshunds. And I am jealous that he already has produce! Look at all that!

For the record, even though my tomatoes are mealy, my dog is still the best dog on earth. He would never eat a tomato.