LESSONS FROM MY GARDEN
“Plant and your spouse plants with you; weed and you weed alone.”
I was alone in my garden last Sunday, bent over in the midday sun, sweating and cursing myself for allowing weeds to take over my 15’x25’ plot.
Yes, the summer growing period had ended; true, I’d had a bumper crop of tomatoes and beans. But it’s a chore to take down a vegetable garden, especially one overpopulated with unwanted green stuff that I’d neglected for a month.
Suddenly, beneath a large scraggly tuft of weeds, I discovered the dearest little 4-inch butternut squash I’d ever seen. And it triggered anew one of the lessons I learn each year from my garden: there’s a joy in planting a seed and, several months later, holding the result in my hands. To me, it’s still a miracle that I actually grew this.
I enjoy many pleasures from vegetable gardening, like sharing my crop of baby yellow squash with appreciative, and gourmet, friends, or introducing them to lemon cucumbers. Few things make me happier than walking out to the garden late in the afternoon, scanning the situation and deciding which lucky vegetable will headline our dinner.
But every year I discover something totally unexpected. Remember the song from “The Fantasticks“: “Plant a radish, get a radish, never any doubt…” I’m telling you — not always.
To wit, last June I troweled two eggplant starters into the soil. By August I had several classic purple-black eggplants growing on one plant, just as I expected. But then one day — voila! — there in my garden on the other eggplant stem was a striped violet and white globe. I took it to our local Saturday Farmer’s Market, showed it to a real farmer, and was told I’d grown a technicolor Graffiti eggplant. Who knew?
A few seasons back, I planted what I thought (and what the container label said) were yellow squash starters. Six weeks later I harvested two-tone green and orange striped squashes. Another time I put in green peppers which were yellow when they ripened.
This year my zucchini did pretty well. Not great, but okay and just enough. Which brings to mind Andy Rooney’s observation:
“Last night we had three small zucchinis for dinner that were grown within
50 feet of our back door. I estimate they cost somewhere in the
neighborhood of $371.49 each.”
Yup. And Mr. Wonderful would agree.
A key lesson I learn each year, and always forget when it’s planting time the following spring, is which vegetables I truly want in my garden Take my green beans. PLEASE! They grew and Grew and GREW. Mr. W. doesn’t love them, I got sick of them, then ran out of recipes. I’m not growing them next year.
That’s a promise. I just have to put that pledge in writing and remember where I’m going to stash it.