A Day in the Garden

Last weekend, after the Meltdown of the one before, was a very consciously constructed vacation for your truly. During the Meltdown, I finally asked for specific, regular, predetermined time every week. My Man’s always available on the weekends, but I somehow don’t take as much time for myself as I need unless those three qualifications are met. So, we decided that Saturday’s would be My Day, more or less.

And it was. All day. I checked in regularly, to nurse the Babe, but then went right back to MeMeMe activities. I neglected the filthy house, let My Man feed the Toddler granola for every meal, with ice cream in between, and turned a blind eye to the persistent use of electronic devices (iBrainmush).

I did some annoying errands, but mostly I revelled. I spent the morning at my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, hit a garage sale, finally went back to another belly dance class, ate a quiet lunch at a fancy pizza place, picked up some cover crop seeds from a farmer friend and then went to the garden to putter.

I spent an hour or more in the sweltering heat and dripping humidity, and I have to proudly say, not that I didn’t mind the heat (ha!) but that I was still able to enjoy the gardening. Which is a lot. It’s broken into the low 90s lately, which might not sound so bad, but it’s humid enough that when I go outside, my glasses fog up! Yeeech.

So, a garden report is in order!

I have for years and years coveted a zucchini (can’t grow them in Cordova, I tried every year and failed) called zuchetta rampicante. Much lauded by my garden guru, Elliot Coleman, and supposedly extremely productive if you can trellis it. My garden bed is up against a fence, so– perfect– I thought. I planted one rampicante, a row of beans and two tomato plants, all up against the fence.

You who Know are already seeing the problem. I’ve never gotten to grow beans either, or come to think of it, any vining plant. I just had no idea how aggressive they could be! Holy Shicksa! The beans quickly took over the tomato plants, using them as a trellis, which I’m fairly certain the tomatoes did not so much appreciate.

But that fucking rampicante. They ought to warn you in the catalog. Productive, yes, I imagine it will be, when it finishes taking over the entire world and takes the time to set the millions of tiny fruit along the length of its 6 miles of stalk. I mean, seriously. Every time I go to the garden (every 2 or 3 days) I pinch off every growing tip I can see, but that Mother Fucker will not be tamed. It’s infiltrating the beans, tomatoes, most of the 14 foot bed it’s planted at the end of, along with the compost pile next to my bed, and into the neighbors alley. I’m sure there was a Ray Bradbury story about this.

Here’s the real clincher though. I’ve plucked a few of her fruits, very small, flower still attached even. Threw ’em on the grill, because what’s better than grilled squash, right? Not this squash. Maybe it’s the grilling , but I fear it’s the squash. Just not a very good flavor.

Other than the Napoleanic squash, two completely squelched tomato plants bearing one or two tomatoes a piece, a little hedge of beans, and a few chard plants, the garden is kind of over. It’s sad. I didn’t know we would be staying for the summer until it was kind of too late. Since I’m leaving for three weeks in July, there wasn’t time to grow anything out. I’m just lucky that I planted beans, tomatoes and squash back in April! I didn’t think I would be here to harvest them, I just wanted to see them growing.

that's the rampicante, in the middle. more green tomatoes I had to pick because the green beans had pulled the plant down onto the ground, and I was afraid they would rot. Those yellow pear toms are from my farmer friend.

It has been fun, for sure, having lots of fresh green beans and (the other, more docile) squash. At home, in one of my self irrigated planters, I have three pepper plants, and that’s a blast. Peppers! Growing right there in my yard! I’m surprised by how many peppers are on each plant. They haven’t turned yet, only a few are even full size. The Toddler keeps picking them, which devastates me! She’ll bring me a half sized, green pepper, so proud. “Yook mama! I got dinner!”

She picked one of my very few brandywine tomatoes too, something I’ve never gotten to grow before, always read about with envy, and was so excited to watch finally turning color. She picked it half pink, half green. My heart just about broke.

The upside is that homegrown tomatoes are actually pretty good eating green. No less flavor than a store bought red one, for sure. I made a delicious salsa out of that half green tomato and one of the baby green peppers. Some red onion, fresh crushed garlic, salt, a few grains of cumin. Delish with tacos of refried black beans cooked in Trixie, then frozen in pint jars, and corn tortillas, brushed with oil, then given a brief trial by fire on the new grill.

Summer cookin.

Made it to the garden again last night, to water. On Saturday I put in a cover crop of some kind of pea. I’m hoping it’ll grow quick and give me some nice green manure before July. Then I’ll turn it under and cover the whole bed with plastic to keep the weeds back while I’m gone.

Four days and it’s already 3 inches tall. Amazing.

I came home with this bouquet in my bike basket. Very fun to ride through the park in the relative cool of evening with fresh greens for all to see. I felt so proud. I haven’t gotten to ride to the garden as much as I’d hoped. It’s a 40 minute round trip ride when I’m hauling my precious cargo in the bike trailer, which of course I usually would be. Last night, solo, was very liberating.

green transportation