So we used to have a really awesome vegetable garden. We grew all kinds of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, beans, and even tried corn and carrots. The carrots were sad, twisted, and bitter, much like some people I encounter on a daily basis, so we decided it’s better to buy them. The corn was fun to watch grow, and even more fun to watch my Hubby HAND POLLINATING the suckers to make sure everything would come out hunky dory. The resultant sexy corn had lots of missing kernels and looked a bit knobby, but tasted very sweet, unlike any people I encounter on a daily basis. We decided that was also better to trust our local farmer’s market for future corn.
We took a pass on a veggie garden for the last few years because of time, weather, and general “ugh, do I really want to dig this all over again?” But two years ago we built a lovely sturdy raised garden, and put all sorts of good soil in it. I ordered plants online and lots of seeds, too, and lovingly started our garden. I had not factored in the resident groundhog, Fred, or the voracious bunnies, or our newly adopted beagle Nellie. It was an….interesting garden season. So this year we armed ourselves with chicken wire fencing and garden stakes and whatnot, and felt sure we were all good to go.
There is something so sweet about blind faith, isn’t there?
We didn’t mail order our plants this year. In fact, May was such crappy weather we didn’t plant until the beginning of June and used well-established plants from (forgive me, here, because it’s just so shameful to admit) Home Depot. *shudder* I try to be a good steward of the earth and take care to note where my food comes from and just who I support with my grocery dollars, but time was short and they were right there….
Here’s the rub: We have gorgeous beefsteak tomatoes, although I find the flavor not as intense as a true Jersey tomato. We have plum tomatoes that are great but they like to lay down on the ground as if they’re too exhausted to show up anymore and make it difficult for me to find them. We have cherry tomatoes that are cheerfully determined to wrestle the plum tomatoes to the ground because they’re showoffs and they want to grab all the glory and attention.
We have cucumbers that grew astonishingly fast, wrapping themselves happily around the fencing and the strings we tied up, blossomed beautiful flowers, gave us three outstanding cucumbers, then promptly died back like something out of a body-snatcher movie. Three. Lousy. Cucumbers. Didn’t even get one of those hidden canoe-sized ones.
We have the tallest, strongest, most wide-leafed zucchini plants I’ve ever seen in my life, dripping with gorgeous blossoms (that I really want to fry up) and NOT A SINGLE FRUIT. I’ve never seen anything like this. Not one. Ginormous leaves, incredibly thick stalks, proud blossoms…..and then nothing. Not one sweet little squash to make bread or frittata or saute with garlic and mushrooms.
And that’s it. That’s the whole garden this year. It’s now August 29, so I don’t think I’m getting anything else this year, and I have to wonder if I count this year as a success because of the tomato bounty or a failure because of cukes and zukes.