Monday, August 30, 2010


You think it isn't going to work.  Then you think it is, maybe.  Then you are completely positive that this year, the watermelon project is a bust.  Which is as it should be after all, since you never grew a watermelon before, ever, and this is not, after all, Texas, and especially not this year, with our 72 degree summer weather stretching out blissfully between rain storms.  Except for when it gets incredibly hot for a weekend and of course you are out of town.  You look at the shriveled vine on your return, and you know beyond the shadow of a doubt: I have killed this plant.  It won't even make another flower.  And then, a few days later, there it is.  Between the potato pots, where it is as cozy, I suppose, as possible, bedded down in bark and dead weeds, a watermelon the size of your fist.  Maybe it will ripen, maybe not.  If it does, maybe it will be orange, like the amazingly flavorful variety from which I saved the seed last summer, or maybe not.  Very likely, the one bite inside will go in Zelda's mouth, not mine.  But the feeling when I saw it was pure, delicious surprise.

Otie brought Zelda a miniature white pumpkin last fall, just before Halloween.  She held it and said his name for weeks.  Then I guess it went in the worm bin, because here it is again.  In a couple months, she can give it right back.

Friday, August 27, 2010

the dance

Plant, harvest.  Plant, harvest.  Harvest, plant.  

In a small space, planning and use become the essential parameters.  I am interested in how it looks, how the plants interact, growing challenges.  But I am mostly interested in eating out of my backyard.  I want the freshest, easiest to grow, most interesting and variable produce I can get.  I want what I cut out of the yard to scream at me: I AM LUSCIOUS!  

There are seasons, like early spring, when it is mostly planting, very little harvest.  And seasons like late fall  when it is pretty much all harvest, no planting.  But all the long stretch through the belly of the season is about finding the right dance.  As far as I can tell, the more often you plant, the more evenly distributed the harvest is, and the fresher and more vibrant the loot.  Planning a nice tidy bed with anew row of lettuce to be put in each week, so that the planting eventually circles around and fills in the space out which you have recently harvested, seems like a pretty straightforward endeavor.  For better or worse, it is one that does not interest me.  Even so, I have to plant often, in my own circular, messy, undefined way, and the spaces that are available are the ones out of which I have lately taken food.  So it works out.  

But when it gets warm, and the growth goes fast and furious, there is suddenly double the work.  Each visit to the beds requires the edited bag of seeds, the trowel, the scissors, the gathering basket or salad spinner, and some nearby place to chuck the weeds.  If it's before August 15th, I usually have a yogurt container of organic fertilizer trailing around after me as well, unless Zelda has already distributed it to "the so hungy plants".  Plus the camera.  And, if I'm really lucky, the crumpled, stained, rain-spotted scrap of paper which is known as the garden plan.  

If I would just stay home and water regularly, I like to think that everything would fall into place.  Certainly, I would still fail to anticipate the week of rain at the beginning of July and have to replant all the beans, and I would still hurry the peas into the ground long before they ever had a chance.  But - as I have done for the last two summers - going out of town for a month between July and August can really throw your flow.  

Luckily, I have a small garden, and one third of it is full of green tomatoes.  So the double time dance that is happening these days will soon be reduced to pulling out a head of lettuce, and planting three lettuce seeds in its place.  At which point I will direct all my energies to that other problem: use.  All those green tomatoes . . . 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home again

So many green beans!  

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Cut flowers, broccoli.  I wanted to, and I did!  Success that you eat and gaze at, and forget.  How beautiful.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Summer Came

I don't know what happened.  It's August.  This has been a crazy season.