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Free…but seriously gross…


For those with weak stomachs, stop reading. For those with a disturbing sense of curiosity, read on.

Last summer, my husband and I planted a beautiful garden in our backyard. The vegetables flourished. We had such a large bumper crop that we had to give huge amounts away to friends, neighbors, co-workers, friends of friends, perfect strangers… you get it.

Despite our daily picking, there was the occasional ripe tomato that escaped our notice and wasn’t picked. They may have escaped our notice but they did not escape the notice of my tomato loving Boston Terrier.

For most of the summer, his face was covered in red tomato juice.

This year, we decided to intensify our debt diet in an effort to shave off a few months of debt payments. Sadly, that meant cutting out our yearly garden budget.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered a tomato plant sprouting from the middle of my yard a month ago. A few days later, while weeding a side planter, I discovered another. Over the next three weeks, more and more tomatoes sprouted with a high concentration of plants where… um… my dog does his business.

Oh. Dear. Lord.

We pick up our yard but sometimes, the dog buries his… uh… business, effectively planting his own… um… garden.

I went to rip out the offending plants, when my husband yelled, ‘LEAVE THEM!!’ Apparently, he wanted to keep the plants and hoped I wouldn’t consider the origin.

So yes, we have an odd definition of a free ‘garden’. No, I won’t be eating those tomatoes. And yes, I understand gardeners use steer manure, but those gardeners don’t have to look at the butt the manure came from.

If you are planning on visiting me this summer for a BBQ, avoid the salsa.


  • Reply SabbyAnn |

    That is too funny!

    We were able to find seed packets on sale for 10/$1, so only ten cents each. Out of one packet of seeds, I had probably thirty tomato plants that sprouted (most of which I just had to throw away, ‘cuz I couldn’t fit them in my garden area)! You might check on Craigslist and see if anyone in your area has extra plants that they could just give you.

  • Reply Susan |

    That’s great – you know, if you don’t eat those tomatoes, your doggie will and next year, you’ll have even MORE plants. 🙂

    They are no “grosser” than the the ones in the supermarket with all the pesticides on them.

    Enjoy your free bountiful harvest.

  • Reply Kristi Dorson |

    hahaha! I love this! It cracked me up. I would have a hard time getting over the origins of that bountiful harvest too. I have real issues with, uh, ‘business’, though. But it IS free and I’ve probably eaten things much grosser and just never knew or refused to think about it, lol. So try to enjoy your lovely tomatoes!

  • Reply Angie |

    I would google it – I thought I heard somewhere that you can catch e coli or something like that from tomatoes of such an interesting origin. The same thing happened to my old boss.

  • Reply Stephan |

    ya these are just as good as any other tomatoe plant, doesnt matter where the seeds come from. But that story just made my morning, i cant even imagine what your reaction was when you put the dots together haha!

  • Reply Shannon |

    OK, that is the FUNNIEST gardening story I’ve ever read! LOL

    I think eating them would be fine for the record. Who knows where the seeds from your last plants came from. it’s all cycle of life stuff!

  • Reply Honey |

    Our dog does not go in our yard. That’s why we walk her. Do people really let their dogs do their business at home like that?

  • Reply Bobbi |

    HAHAHA, This is precisely why I love this blog. So real, you can’t make this stuff up! I say go for it! The soil probably filtered any bad stuff, haha. too funny! Ok, so maybe google it. 🙂

  • Reply Michelle |

    Beks – if you’re seriously going to miss gardening this year, does your community have a local gardening club? My town’s garden club recently had a sale and they had so many plants that were absolutely dirt cheap …

    Then again – your dog makes tomatoes for free. 🙂

  • Reply Mary |

    Seriously? You aren’t putting in a garden because of your debt?

    Um, no offense, but you have your thinking completely ass-backward.

    A garden would SAVE you money. Don’t you eat fruits and veggies every day? You can invest $5 or $6 in seeds and have your vegetables for the entire year, if you know how to freeze and can. And what you have too much of, you can swap for other stuff. I give my neighbor free shampoo that I get, she gives me green peppers and zucchini.

    What little you spend in seed is probably less than the cost of a week’s worth of vegetables from a store or even a farmer’s market.

    Seeds are currently 3/$1 at my Walgreens. One pack of climbing beans, one pack of onions and one pack of sugar snap peas and you’ve just saved yourself probably close to $100/yr in those three vegetables alone.

    The return on investment in a garden is one of the greatest I know – even if you neglect the garden and let the weeds grow like I tend to do.

    And big deal where the seeds come from – whether a bird or a dog poops them out, it’s still a free plant. Stick a few in containers and put them by your curb at $1 each. Cheaper than Lowe’s for whoever buys them, and you’d have your seed money.

    I enjoy your blog but you aren’t the most resourceful person. You need to learn to think outside the box.

  • Reply Mary |

    And vegetables are a hell of a lot better for you than tuna helper or whatever it was your post was about.

  • Reply Carol |

    If your tomatoes last year were hybrids, I don’t think they grow “true” from seeds. Heirlooms will. I’d leave the tomato plants just to see what grows! And I’d eat the tomatoes.

  • Reply Beks |

    SabbyAnn, Michelle, and Mary – Yes, the cost of the seeds is part of the reason we decided to hold off but most of the expense comes from preparation of garden beds, mulch, and water. Water is VERY expensive in southern California and we get penalized it we go over our allottment. The prices went up again in January and we simply can’t afford it.

    Honey – yes, our dogs poop in our yard and we pick up after them. A lot of people do the same thing. It’s normal.

  • Reply Mary |

    I guess it boils down to choosing what you value and going with it – to me, a garden is worth the cost and the effort, especially if you like eating as much organic as possible.

    I spend zero to prepare my beds – my “mulch” comes from the compost I make myself. Everything from banana peels to outer lettuce leaves to egg shells, and whatever weeds I pull in my yard.

    The work I put into it is a freebie, in my book. To me, it’s a cheap hobby – good exercise (I don’t pay $40 a month for a gym when I can get all the moving and bending I want just working in my yard), and because I’ve been gardening for a couple of years, the soil is fertile (end of season greens go right back into the soil) and well-worked up. I don’t even need to borrow a rototiller anymore (and I sure wouldn’t pay to rent one when I can borrow or barter for one).

    As for water, I live in Michigan (think surrounded by some really big water) but water is expensive here, too. I fill a watering can and only water the plants directly at the stem – no full-on sprinkling for me. I like to think I’ve been green long before it was cool, but I’m really just trying to save my 30-yr old well pump and make it last another few years. So while the water at my house is free, none of my family has free water and we all water just the plant. I would seriously love to see just how much it truly costs water-wise for a garden for one season if you water selectively.

    I guess it’s a matter of priorities – I’d rather have a hobby I enjoy, fresh -organic- vegetables (I know I’m not spraying them with anything!) and a way to exercise free than to go spend $20 on the movies once a week, or something similar.

  • Reply Alison@This Wasn't In The Plan |

    @Mary – Depending on where you live, gardening can be an expensive endeavor. If we were to throw a packet of seeds into the ground without doing anything to treat the soil, nothing would grow. We put a lot of money into turning our soil into something that will actually sustain a plant. We do compost, but that alone isn’t enough. For us, our garden is mainly a hobby for my husband, it does not save us money. I think your second comment is right on and I couldn’t agree more – it is definitely about priorities!

  • Reply Louise |

    @Honey – oh my goodness, if your dog poo doesn’t end up fertilising your backyard then where does it go? Do you leave it in the street for other people to step in and smell? Or do you put it into poisonous landfill?

    Your dog poo puts free energy right in your hands. Eat > Excrete > Compost > Grow > Eat etc is a good cycle. Eat > Excrete > pollute good drinking water/lock it away in poisonous landfill is not even a cycle, much less a good one.

  • Reply Honey |

    Yes, my boyfriend and I hate dogs and the one we found 3 years ago we allow to stay with us even though we hate dogs. We use decomposable plastic and so it is destined for the landfill…if it was up to me we’d put her down…

  • Reply Jen |

    Hilarious!! I find it interesting he buries his “treasures” like a cat would! Growing tomatoes… The way Mother Nature intended 🙂

  • Reply Jen |

    @Bobbi – thanks for the post! I knew using human feces is bad, but I didn’t know it’s because we eat meat. Which makes me wonder if some vegans and vegetarians use their feces as fertilizer….

    @Beks – Maybe instead of getting rid of the plants you could use them as free dog food? 😉

  • Reply christy |

    Wow. Your comments are really great. I laughed out loud about the comment regarding not letting your dog poop in your yard. HILARIOUS! I thought everyone’s dog pooped in their yard. And Mary was just kind of mean about your resourcefulness.

    Well, the good thing is that you can do whatever the hell you want, and our opinions don’t really matter.

  • Reply Joe |

    I thought there was a serious risk of bacterial contamination from things like this?

  • Reply Someone |

    People! You can not get e. coli from a plant that was pooped out a year ago! You only get e. coli from fresh manure! Composted manure is safe and is not the same as fresh manure! There is a difference. Fresh manure is fresh and has alot of bad stuff in it (bacterica “e coli” and stomach acid and etc). Composted manure is weathered-rotten-‘dead’ manure. It has already begun the decomposing process of organic life. Think outside the box people!

  • Reply Beks |

    Christy – Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your comment made my night.

    Someone – I never thought of it like that. I guess one year old poop doesn’t have e. coli! ; )

  • Reply Jen |

    @Mary – Gardening is ecnomocial only if you get enough yield to cover your costs. It doesn’t necessarily sound like that’s the case for Beks and her husband.

  • Reply L |

    My dog also poops in the backyard;)

    Gardening sounds great, but I just don’t have the time. I know everyone says it, but I really don’t. I prefer buying fruits and veggies and saving money elsewhere.

    I might spend/save in different areas than someone else, but that doesn’t make either of us unresourceful. It just shows people have different priorities, opinions, and lifestyles.

  • Reply Mary |

    Wasn’t trying to be “mean”, Christy…just trying to point out that if there is a will, there is usually a way. Share the cost of seeds with someone (you usually don’t even WANT to plan a whole package of seeds, trust me on that), cut back other ways to cover the water bill, etc.

    Forgive me for voicing an opinion? If I don’t agree with the writer, it’s not ok to say so? Mea culpa, I won’t make the mistake of commenting again…

  • Reply Jeff |

    Funny post.

    I’ve planted some tomatoes this year and also have a tomato loving dog.

    I’m hoping he’ll contribute to the family garden, just like your dog did! 🙂

So, what do you think ?