Garden developments

squash.JPGI thought it was about time to give an update on how my organic garden is progressing this summer.

My yellow squash is currently my pride and joy, growing out and up in all four directions. I had no idea it would grow to be so large. The leaves themselves are so beautiful and luscious. They do wilt in the occasional heat wave but are quickly revived by another helping of good ol' H20.

I have eight of my ten tomato plants planted in two rows behind the yellow squash, each curling around an iron spiral post, which is working out really well to keep each plant supported and fairly separate. (The remaining two tomato plants are located close to my lettuce for easy salad gathering.) My only regret is that I did plant them too close together. Live and learn; next year I'll space them out more. But they are thriving, and I have been tying up the longest stems, to get them up off the ground.

Last weekend, I gleefully cut up my one-and-only pair of pantyhose into thin, long strips for securing the stems in a gentle hold. However, my friends from Kassenhoff Growers recommended that next time I buy jute to use as ties, as jute is biodegradeable, unlike panty hose which probably takes a million-plus years to break down... yet will tear after only one wearing.

tomatoes.JPGOnce the tomatoes themselves get bigger, I will post more photos to show the variety in their shapes and sizes. This (see photo, right) is the best shot I could get. I'm amazed at the number of tomatos per stem. I learned while tying up the low-lying stems just how fragile the fruit's connection to the stem really is, and just how careless human hands can unwittingly be, when three juveniles bit the dust, literally.

My ronde de nice zucchini plant is still in its flowering stage, as it was planted late and then moved closer to the yellow squash when the snails began their nightly leaf-eating habit again. I had already lost one zucchini to their onslaught and instead of breaking down and using Slugo — which is made of questionably organic material that kills — I decided to just move the plant. That did the trick. And no snails died.

(Note: I have acquired a bit of a Buddhist-omnivore's dilemma over the years about when and why to kill another living being, even a snail or an ant. I know, I know — there are many out there shaking their heads, but killing, even snails or ants, has become so routine in our culture. I like to review my choices from lots of different angles, and choose something not just because that always the way it's been done. Maybe I'll write more about this another time. And yes, I eat meat.)

cuke.JPG I harvested my first cucumber this week, right before I hopped a red-eye flight to Iowa — which is where I'm writing this missive — so I didn't get to taste it, but am hoping Peachie is enjoying it without me. A second one should be ready to pick upon my return next week. I'm looking forward to slicing it up into a salad made from my lettuce patch.

Which reminds me: I know I glowed rhapsodic last week about the opening of Farmer Joe's just down the street. And I am still glowing, you can be sure. And I know I've beamed about the strawberries I've purchased at the Grand Lake Farmers' market one neighborhood over from mine.

sqleaves.JPGBut nothing is as fresh or as satisfying as picking, preparing, and eating food you've grown yourself, outside your own home, nurtured by your own hands. The lettuce I harvest is more tender than anything I've bought at the farmers' market or in a store. I picked the first cherry tomato of the year from my garden, kinda ceremoniously, the day I left town — the fruit just ripened to that gorgeous ... well, "cherry tomato" ... red. I popped it into my mouth without even washing it. I felt the skin pop, then crack, to burst its juicy flesh all over my lower teeth and tongue. The being-in-the-momentness of paying that kind of attention... deliciously priceless.

P.S. I want to support a revolution that isn't just about supporting more local farmers and grocers, but about encouraging more local gardeners.

2 Responsesto “Garden developments”

  1. Carol says:

    I love your idea of Revolution. All my CSA customers and anyone who spends any time in conversation with me gets as much education and encouragement as I can give them.
    I think every yard should have a garden or at least every neighborhood should have a garden. I know not everyone enjoys gardening as much as I do, but I think its ridiculous to have to get your tomatoes from a store especially this time of year!
    There is no end to the variety you can grow in your own back yard. Gardening is good for you, good for you kids, good for the planet.

  2. Corn Maven says:

    i agree with you that every neighborhood should have a community garden, if not a garden in every yard -- and even balcony. my mother loaned me Square Foot Gardening (and i'm sure there are others) that points out how little room you need to have some sort of garden. (of course, the garden needs light, water, and tender, daily care, too.) you don't even need to have a plot of land, you can add soil to a box on top of concrete.

    where is your csa, carol? near oakland, by chance?