Monday, August 22, 2016

Veggie Tales

This summer, we grew a garden.

In fact, this garden was the first one of my adult life.  As a child, we had a large garden in our yard, and I loved helping my mom pull weeds and pick peas.  It seemed like that garden was full of every vegetable imaginable, and it was that vision that prompted me to try my hand at gardening myself.

Everything was pretty stacked against us.  With our yard already taken up by a full-sized wiffle ball field, oversized playset and one available back corner ear marked for a future shed, our only option for a garden was on the east side of our house where a gravel pad reminded us of the Airstream trailers we put to rest.  

So last spring, we did our best to dig away the rock and till the dirt.  Trying to eliminate all of the rock was about as futile as trying to keep Play-Doh colors separate with a two year-old at the table, but we removed enough to plant our seeds, and before I knew it, we had a garden full of green, and the promise of fresh food to come.

I don't know if the rock is to blame, or the dirt that often feels like more clay than soil, but not everything took.  We had a bumper crop of zucchini, four abundant tomato plants that are still cranking out super sweet cherry and grape tomatoes, more green beans than we could eat, and a pretty good turnout for those peas I remembered harvesting as a kid.  But the onions never grew to full size, the spinach got eaten by grubs from underground, the broccoli I planted for a fall harvest has only produced three tiny potential broccoli plants, and the pepper plants created only one pepper each. 

But the carrots, y'all.  

If there were a vegetable metaphor for a lackluster garden yield, these carrots would be it.  When I pulled all of them after a couple started to rot in the ground, I was so disappointed in these pathetic, dull orange nubs.  As with all of the other vegetables that never materialized, I felt frustrated not only that we didn't get to eat the food, but also that my kids didn't get to have the full gardening "experience".  That dirt-in-your-toes, damp earth smell, fresh-from-the-garden dinner experience.

But when I unloaded those carrots, it turned out to be quite an experience anyway.

"What?  These are our carrots?"

"Yeah, I know they're not the be--"

"These are AWESOME!"

"They're what?!"

"This one is super hairy, so none of the other carrots like him, because he's gross."

"And this one is running away because he doesn't want to get hairy too."

"This one grew a tail like a rat because he tattled on the hairy one."

"These guys are just bullies."

"This guy was so scared that he forgot to put on pants."

"And this one-- holy cow, Mom!  He forgot his pants, too, but you can see his--"

I guess the garden was fruitful after all.

...but maybe I'll skip the carrots in 2017.

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