It’s that time of year again when Rolly and I lean over the white picket fence that surrounds our vegetable garden and argue. Ghandi knew the kind of arguing I’m talking about. A famous quote of his describes it from the perspective that one of us has— “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” I’ll leave it up to you to guess who usually wins. Let’s just say, that it is not uncommon for a box of plants to sit for several days before it gets planted, because somebody believes that it isn’t worthwhile to take up their valuable garden space with it because ”Nobody will eat leeks!” or “Nobody will eat eggplant!”
Well, this year there will be leeks again, and eggplant too, and Patty Pan squash, for harvesting the tiny ones that we love to stuff and bake. We will also be growing cucumbers, melons, zuchinni, and tomatoes. However, there will be no Green Heritage tomatoes this time round because last year we were afraid to harvest them.We never knew when they were ripe—how could we? They never changed colour! Neither will there be any more chocolate tomatoes. I’m not talking about some crazy idea somebody had for dipping them in Swiss chocolate, like strawberries; it was a variety that was called “Chocolate” because they were very dark brown.They also all fell to the ground before we picked them, because not only did we not know when they were ripe, but we couldn’t even tell when they were rotten! The little yellow pear-shaped tomatoes, and the tiny currant tomatoes, as small as blueberries, were both delicious, but the small striped variety were not as good for eating as they were to garnish with.
Actually, the most amazing thing we grew was planted not far from our back deck, rather than in the enclosed garden.It was a very common Sweet 100 tomato plant, which yielded so heavily, and over such a long period of time, that we handed every visitor who came some kind of recycled container(s) and told them to pick all they wanted. I’m sure, that one lonely plant gave every visitor who liked tomatoes, all that they wanted to munch on as we visited, and enough for salads and snacks for a week. It likely yielded a bushel basket- full of cherry tomatoes over the summer months. Something else we will not ever grow again is garden huckleberries. Likely even Huckleberry Finn wouldn’t have stolen them from our garden if he had come by our way starving; they were so blah! For the first time in our garden’s history we will not be planting peppers; last year we waited, and waited, and waited, and finally harvested a bushel of peppers bitter enough to make potato bug spray! Nor will there be tomatillos for salsa verde, because they became such a pest from the seeds that fell to the ground in the preseeding years (not a typo, just a super dual- purpose word.) that we were yanking them out all summer. As we are feverishly scraping our hoes over every square inch of dirt to get rid of our garden’s thick dill lawn this week we will exempt a one inch wide by twenty-foot strip. That will save us the time it would take to plant another row of it. Or maybe we could just hoe it all out, and buy our dill it at the market this summer, to save having to do the same job all over again next spring. So much dill and so little thyme!
The following is a little poem I wrote about vegetables, in appreciation to my mother. Quite early in our lives, she taught us to eat a wide variety of vegetables, prepared in just about every way you could imagine. In large farm families, where finances were generally an issue, babies usually ate the mushed- up version of whatever the big people were having. This happened long before they had a chance to become picky. Ask around among your friends and you’ll quickly discover that the more siblings there were,the wider the variety of foods they usually enjoy now.While this doesn’t always hold true for young people today, whose Mom’s may have brought them up on fast food, it is likely so for the older ones among us.
Artichokes, Beets and Chard
Artichokes, beets, and chard,
Even their names sound bad!
If they sprung up in our yard
My mother would be mad.
She’d stomp them to a mush!
Or chop them with hoe!
She’d kill them in a rush!
She’d never let them grow!
But since they cost a lot
When she buys them at the store
She cooks them in a pot,
Then makes me eat some more.
Artichoke sounds like “Ought to choke”
’Cause that’s what I think of doing.
I think sometimes I’m going to croak,
But I have to keep on chewing.
And beet is a nasty word, I’d say,
Like “They beat us in a game.”
Or “I got beat up the other day.”
Eating them feels the same.
And the last time Dad was cooking,
When the hot dogs got all hard
And burned when he wasn’t looking,
He called the black parts “charred”.
Artichokes, Chard, and beets,
I thought they were the worst!
But now that I have to eat these leeks,
I think I’m going to burst!