Many people wax poetic on the joys of homegrown produce. The flavor, the nutrients, the connection with the earth…. all good things and all good for you (and deep down inside I agree) but on the shallow outside I’d still rather reach for a donut or chocolate bar rather than a carrot stick. Vegetables just don’t make my heart go pitter pat.
Because of that the vegetable garden always walks a fine line between productivity and extinction. I love the look of vegetables bursting from the soil, but the newly dug beds and open ground are just too tempting to keep free of flowers. At this time of year it’s more of a flower harvest.
The season starts innocently enough, and with a strong will I turn under all the persicaria and daisies and whatever else tries to sneak in. I need room for delicious lettuce seedlings and broccoli transplants and the flowers just throw off my industrially neat rows. Things go downhill from there.
Harvest time is always a problem. If the broccoli is ready it needs to be picked, and there are only so many broccoli-cheese omelets you can reasonably fit into a weekend. Things go to seed and I’m strangely amused to see weeds such as lettuce, pumpkins, and chard popping up the next year.
One of the sore points this summer was how often the sweet corn needed watering in our pancake-thin topsoil. It seemed like every other day I’d look out there and see dry curled leaves begging for a little moisture. Shockingly enough even after giving up in disgust the patch managed to produce a few deliciously sweet and flavorful ears.
Another producer was a trellis of pole beans (which called it a year after being blown over in August). Beans are nice on a trellis, but the kids appreciate “love in a Puffs” much more than bean salad.
The kids share the love by picking the puffs and having a puff-fight but the real reason behind the name is found inside the puff on each of the vine’s black seeds.
There is plenty of ‘real’ harvest that comes from the patch. Tomatoes never fail, even the fussier heirlooms, and here is a huge cluster of “Kellogg’s Breakfast”. In a rare second appearance in a single blog post (I hate having myself show up in any pictures), I left my hand in there to show just how big the fruits are. 2 lbs, 14 oz for the pair in case you’re interested.
When I finished planting the tomatoes I couldn’t resist adding a border of “Moldavian” marigolds (from Nan at Hayefield) and a few stray salvia and leftover zinnia seedlings. Might as well since the other side of the bed is edged in hellebore seedlings.
And did I mention I like phlox? When you’re faced with a few new ones to plant and you’ve given absolutely no forethought to where they’ll go the vegetable garden makes everything better again.
With the season winding down one would think the vegetable patch would be safe, but fall is actually the most dangerous time of year for vegetable space. After you pull up a dead, mildewed patch of zucchini the vacant spot almost begs for a few tulips or daffodils which you can’t find a space for elsewhere. No worries though, I’m sure they’ll die down before I need the room for peppers!
Oh and I think the colchicums look nice blooming between the sweet corn stalks 🙂