My sons and I have lived in our home for just over a year. Perhaps we will measure time by our garden. We remember last year as the year of the CUCUMBER. Each day my boys stuffed themselves on long, thin, sweet cucumbers that exploded each day. I couldn't stop popping sweet Sungold tomatoes, finally succumbing to a slow roast that caramelized them, tweaking their taste slightly. The 2010 garden wasn't pretty. But it was successful. And for me it began a love affair with the gardening itself. I fell for the ability to plant and not worry. To know that a weed or a lost plant would not make the world tumble down. Instead I could pick the weed and replace the plant and all would be good.
We planned this year's garden for months. The boys insisted, insisted!, on fruit. So after questioning all the gardeners we knew, as well as the fine staff at Russells in Wayland, we chose a few fruits. First, we planted two blueberry plants in a wide pot. At the suggestion of Russells, we chose a mid- and late-bloom plant, put together to cross pollinate. So far? Ummm...some buds, but we are hopeful.
The strawberries have proven ironic. My sons were devastated when some suburban animal (a rabbit, perhaps) devoured last year's measly crop of 2 strawberries. So, this year we planted one in strawberry planter that sits high on a table, away from hopping bunnies. The other is in planter, overlooking the patio. We had extra plants and I offered them up to our neighbor. They planted the strawberries in flower pots on the other side of the house. As of today? They have about 2 dozen strawberries. We have...well...3! My sons have stayed optimistic and moved our planter to the other side, too, hoping that sun was the factor here. Science at its best. They also planted a honeydew and a cantaloupe because, well, who can resist planting a melon? Our friend Seth brought over blackberry and raspberry cuttings from his yard, but they died, perhaps victims of too much heat and shade, as I am still learning where to plant things.
I let the boys chose the tomatoes and a rainbow emerged: purple, gold, green and red are all sitting, waiting for consistent warmth. I skipped last year's broccoli and traded it for cauliflower. We are also trying to be more careful with carrots which never grew beyond spindly strands.
As for the rest of the garden? It is slow going with a few bright lights. Though the cold weather snagged my first set of basil, I replanted and have plenty for tossing on pasta or grilled pizza. My first batch of arugula and rainbow chard lauded me a few meals, though they recently both died. And we also lost our first set of cucumber plants! I am suspecting that I haven't quite got the hang of how often to water, whether to add some sort of fertilizer and how to manage this jumpy weather. My other irony? As we started our garden I "pruned" some leaves. Luckily, my best friend and gardener galore, Seth, pointed out that actually, I was pruning lettuce! So, the lettuce I planted last year is growing by the glorious handful, perfect for poached eggs and tossed salads. (Seth also bought my son the BEST birthday present: seeds and four pots for him to plant his own beans!)
In the meantime, though, we water. We prune. We eat fresh mint. We wait for radishes, and beets, snow peas and green beans, tomatoes, berries and yes, cucumbers.