We have long kept a small backyard garden to teach our children, and now our grandchildren, a few basics about gardening.
The biggest lesson they have learned is this — if we had to live on the food we grow, we would all be very thin and very hungry.
Unless, of course, you could be well fed on tomatoes. We do well with tomatoes and any other plant that thrives on neglect.
We are currently yielding 11 bright red tomatoes for every one raspberry.
We like tomatoes and are grateful for tomatoes, but man does not live on tomatoes alone. Man also needs olive oil, mozzarella and pasta to survive, all of which we have had no success growing.
Tomatoes are like cucumbers and zucchini – plants that start out as unassuming frail seedlings or an emerging leaf or two here and there. They keep you guessing whether they will endure the dip in nighttime temperatures, the torrents of rain or the scorch of the sun. You check on them every day, then one day, in a matter of seconds, they are mature and fully grown, virtually exploding, intent on taking over the entire garden. They become, shall we say, overbearing? They multiply like crazy.
Last week I dropped off a friend at her home after having lunch. Her husband ran out of the house when he saw the car pull into the driveway and said he wouldn’t take his wife back until I agreed to take some cucumbers home with me.
She is a good friend, and because our cucumbers had not yet started exploding, I agreed to take a few.
He reappeared on a dead run, cradling a basket with 16 cucumbers.
By the time I got home (90 seconds later), our cucumbers were also exploding. We’ve had cucumber soup, cucumber in salads, cucumber sandwiches, cucumbers in vinegar and sour cream and cucumber slices to reduce puffy bags under the eyes.
Every backyard gardener is giving cucumbers and tomatoes to neighbours who already have more than enough, so they give them to other friends and neighbours who give them to other friends and neighbours, with some tomatoes and cucumbers known to travel three time zones in a single day.
We also do well growing herbs that thrive on neglect thereby complementing the produce we grow that thrives on neglect. There’s a pattern here, isn’t there?
Last week I tucked a bag filled with rosemary in my purse for a friend and forgot to give it to her, or force it on her, whichever you like.
My purse is now permanently fragranced like rosemary. On the upside, every time I open my purse, my sinuses are instantly cleared.
We have foisted all the tomatoes and cucumbers we can on friends and neighbours. The time has come for us to draw the curtains and bolt the doors less they have plans to reciprocate. We’re taking no chances. Zucchini season is coming.
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