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City Girl Discovers Her Green Thumb

Tomato Ladders Prevent Sprawl in the Garden

Judy Fisher
Tomato Ladders are the key to success for gardener Judy Miller. "The first year I ordered five ladders to try them out," she says. "The ladders were amazing. They held up in the high winds and kept the tomatoes growing straight up," says Judy Fisher.
Judy Fisher had always been a city girl. She grew up in Dallas, Texas, and never gardened when she was young. Her gardening adventures began fifteen years ago when she married her second husband, Bob, who had been a farmer in Iowa. "Bob tilled up a new garden space in the backyard, and it was I who planted it," she says. "He coached me through that first garden and everything grew well," says Judy. She planted potatoes, (she never knew they sprouted from eyes on the potato spud), squash, okra, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant onions, and garlic. Her first experience with garlic was humorous. "I didn't know you harvested the bulb underground, so I chopped off the tops thinking that was the garlic I was to supposed to eat," she laughs.

Six years ago, Bob and Judy moved to their present house in Denison, just north of Dallas. Though they now have two acres, a pond, and plenty of room to garden, Judy concentrates her gardening energy in raised beds, growing only her favorite vegetables; tomatoes, bell peppers, okra, cucumbers, onions, and carrots. "I love tomatoes", she says, "and particularly like growing the 'Grape', 'Super Fantastic' and 'Sweet 100' varieties." According to Judy, the key to her tomato success is Tomato Ladders. Keeping her old wire cages upright during the Texas summer winds had always been a battle. Tomato Ladders were the perfect solution. "The first year I ordered five ladders to try them out," she says. "The ladders were amazing. They held up in the high winds and kept the tomatoes growing straight up," says Judy. Since the tomatoes grew more vertically, they didn't sprawl as much. "Now I can plant them closer together," says Judy. "This allows me to plant more tomatoes in less space, which also helps the foliage shade the soil, keeping it cool and reducing the amount of watering I have to do."

Judy loves the tomato ladders so much she's ordered five more and is thinking about ordering some for her peppers. "They are effective in the garden, and attractive, too," she says.

Judy Fisher's Garden
Judy likes her yard to look neat and manicured.
Vegetables aren't the only plants thriving in Judy's garden. She has many trees on her property. The majestic oaks and elms create shade, but that doesn't stop her from growing flowers. Judy has flower beds of shade lovers such as hosta, caladium, and impatiens, planted under her trees. She also has flowering trees, such as crape myrtle and wisteria, that add color to her landscape. "We had a tree cut down and instead of taking out the massive trunk I left it there and planted red-flowering wisteria at the base," says Judy. "In no time the wisteria covered the trunk."

Judy says that part of the reason her vegetables, flowers, and trees grow so well is because of the enriched fertilizer she gets from a local store. It's loaded with natural minerals and materials such as greensand, granite sand, cornmeal, dried molasses and wheat bran. It really gives her plants a boost.

Judy likes her yard to look neat and manicured. She cares for all the gardens herself and notices all the details, including the garden hose. "I have a white vinyl hose that just doesn't look very attractive in the garden. "I'm thinking of buying a Coil Hose from Gardener's Supply. It's attractive, and also recoils nicely when I want to keep it out of sight," she says.

Judy Fisher's pond
Judy Fisher's 35-by-35-foot pond.
Bob and Judy also have a second lot next door that's dominated by a 35-by-35-foot pond. Like her first vegetable garden, Bob prepared the site, and Judy planted it. The pond is landscaped with beds of coleus, begonias, cannas, lilies, and tulips. On and around the pond are water lilies, water iris, pickerel rush, and other aquatic plants. Judy has learned about water gardening through trial and error.

The first year her pond was covered in algae. Now she realizes the pond is an ecosystem and everything has to be in balance for it to be healthy. She uses barley pellets to keep the algae away, places goldfish in the pond, and makes sure 85 percent of the water surface is covered in plant foliage in summer. "This way, the pond stays healthy, the fish are happy, and the flowers bloom beautifully, says Judy.

Although Judy's gardening experiences started later in life, she has been a quick learner. Always eager to take on a new challenge, she's having a great time transforming her little piece of the world into an ever more beautiful and abundant garden.

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