Have you ever tried to grow a garden? I have.


It was a complete failure. Then about 25 years ago, something occurred.


Our family had moved a lot, from state to state. We’d experienced several climates and terrains. Nothing seemed to work when it came to producing a garden.


I was pretty exasperated with the garden growing idea until we moved to Arizona. There, I thought, I could grow anything.


Boy was I wrong. Wouldn’t you figure that you could grow fruits and vegetables in the sun?


There was no way.


Everything I planted (even with an automatic sprinkling system running morning and night), refused to grow. I babied those seeds and plants. They couldn’t have felt more loved.


For six years in a row, I had pathetic looking gardens. In other words, they were all weeds and no vegetables – until the summer of 1989.


During the summer of 1989, we planned to drive the kids to Pennsylvania to see the family. We organized the annual trip to the beach and a visit to Hershey Park, one of the kids’ favorite vacation sites.


Before we left, I literally threw tomato plants in the ground. I knew my garden would be a failure. But I gave it my best shot.


In fact, while walking away from the garden, I tossed some plants over my shoulder, daring them to grow.


What's more, I did not arrange for the neighbor boy to water the garden.


Before closing the patio door and getting in the car to travel, I hollered, “Go ahead and grow!” as I stuck out my tongue.


Five minutes later, I turned the ignition switch, and began our 4600-mile trip.


That summer, we stayed extra long. We couldn’t get enough of Grandma and Grandpa, or the beach. I bet we were gone over a month.


When we returned home, I walked into the backyard and I was unprepared for what I saw.


I found a full garden, and half of our lawn, filled with tomato plants loaded with TOMATOES! Can you imagine?


I had not done one blessed thing to those stupid plants, and they grew!


In fact, they had taken over my backyard. I didn’t know what to do with all those tomatoes.


Well, in 1989, they didn’t know as much about the therapeutic powers of tomatoes.


Today, we know that tomatoes are one of the best sources for lycopene.


Lycopene gives tomatoes their red color. Tomatoes are also rich in several other nutrients including potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron.


In the present day, we know that eating tomatoes regularly can reduce the risk of several cancers. Isn’t that wonderful?


Research scientists report that three servings of tomatoes a week can cut some cancers by 30 to 50%.


If only I had known that information the year of the tomato garden. I gave dozens of tomatoes away to friends, family and strangers. I also made sauce, lots of sauce.


In fact, here I am 25 years later, and I think I saw one of those jars of sauce in my food storage.


Lesson learned. Don’t taunt your garden to grow, because you’ll surely be eating tomato sauce for years.


Diane Mack is coordinator of Putting Families First, Jackson County's Family Week Foundation. Email her at Director@jacksoncountyfamilyweek.org.