Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Accidental Gardener

Let's get one thing straight, right from the get-go: I am not a farmer. Not even remotely close to anything like a deliberate self-grower of food. I buy 98% of my food from the store, where the veggies are (generally) organic, the meat & fish is unrecognizable as animal life, wrapped serenely as it is in its sanitary plastic wrap, and the beans are in a big hopper and I shovel out as much (generally more) as I need. In other words: I try to make intelligent shopper decisions, buy local when I can, and organic/free-range/antibiotic-free on other mainstays. But I do not "make" my own food.

Which is not to say that I dislike the idea. In a romantic, philosophical sense, I love the idea of gardening. This kind of disassociative mental meandering includes visions of black earth, moist and loamy, and planted with neat rows of peas, carrots, beets, sweet (and pop!) corn, with perhaps some berry bushes on the side. Onions. Loads of garlic. But, this is ideological only. I hate weeding, and while I really enjoy the taste of home-grown food (especially that which hasn't had the bejesus sprayed out of it), I don't appreciate the work that goes into gardening. Trust me: my mother-in-law is an insatiable gardener, to the point where her back is almost always "done-in" because she spends so much time bent over, weeding and picking and generally fussing over her plot. Nope. No thanks. Not for me.

So, it comes as rather a surprise that I/we have grown a rather bumper crop of food this summer, at least by the standards of our household. After picking literally a BOWL full of ripe berries this evening, I set out to photograph our tomato plants that are, Killer-wise, taking over our deck.

So, yeah. This represents those fruits that were ripe today. I'm sure there will be this many tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. And here I thought nothing would ever be able to overcome the bushels of mint we have growing in this same space...

Looking around, I realized I'd forgotten about our squash. Yup, you heard me: SQUASH. See, I'd bought an acorn squash sometime in the early spring, but it went bad before we could eat it. Not wanting to waste it - and trying to make up for the black walnuts I elminated as a food source a year ago - I simply cut the squash open and threw the halves out back for the squirrels and birds. And, in that wonderful way that life has, this was the result:

Risking life-threating cuts from the unnecessarily sharp-edged leaves, I poked around and found at least a half-dozen of these: having GROWN squash before, can anyone tell me when I harvest these little cuties??

Moving around the yard, we come to the annual pots of peppers. Tomatoes haven't historically done well in pots for us, but peppers seem to thrive, and this year is no exception:

It seems we'll have enough for a second harvest of rhubarb, which I guess means it's pie or crisp time...

And, two non-food items, but still requiring some combination of minimal green-thumbedness and maximum luck: here are the ferns that we transplanted from the Island last summer...

And, last but certainly not least (inasmuch as their lush height is coming close to preventing access to my front door): here are the sunflowers which, like their squashy brethren, are volunteers which bravely soldier on down the front planter a little further every year, filling in late-season bare spots with their silly yellow goodness.

Seems I'm not the only one who enjoys these flowers: we've had bunches of happy bees nectaring in these blooms for weeks, including this little guy, so fluffy with pollen that he could barely fly:

'Kay, that's it from me. I gotta go open the good bottle of wine I refrigerated for us, settle in, and watch our future president deliver his nomination acceptance speech. baROCK & ROLL!


Blogger Steph said...

I tried to grow some acorn squash just like yours last year and I could never get the stupid things to grow bigger than a baseball. Bah.

I think the appropriate size for such a squash might be more like a small teapot? That's helpful, right? Don't leave them too long or they get skanky and bug-assed.

Your accidental garden looks quite lovely. Oh, how I wish I could visit. :)

8:58 AM  

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