Friday, July 29, 2011

Garden Begins to Deliver

 I've been at it every evening, watering the garden daily, in hopes of managing a crop even with the extremely dry weather. Each day the heat, too, impedes the garden with it's hours-on-end baking. Today, in fact, was the 31st day this summer where we managed a high temperature of 90° or above. Two have exceeded 100°.
 A few days ago I pulled the first few tomatoes from our garden. In the small space we've allotted this year, I planted but four tomatoes and four bell peppers.

 The bell peppers are huge, even fist-sized, but they are also long rather than stubby and compact. They don't much lend themselves well to stuffing. Usually we simply cut the top off, gut them and stuff them. If we did that with these, the meal would look like a shiny green smokestack. So Mom cuts them in half and uses both halves for stuffing. Thus one equals two hearty meals. The stem is merely cut off and that end of the pepper is not eaten. Otherwise we'd be throwing away good food.
 We are giving peppers away, too. Each of the four plants have already produced several peppers and probably a dozen are hanging there now ready to be picked.
 How stocky and strong are the plants! And yet by evening, when they have stood beneath the sun all day, they are wilted when I go around with my hose. By morning they are sturdy and healthy looking again.
 The tomato plants are large, too, and already beginning to produce more than we can eat. I was sorry to see, though, that the fruit are small. Though perfectly shaped (I hate those humongous varieties that produce ugly misshapen fruit), they are not particular acidic and lack that old-fashioned tomato taste we most love. These remind me of hothouse tomatoes, picked too early, or grown through hydroponic means. Give me a tomato grown in dirt and left to ripen on the plant!
The finches are enjoying the last of the sunflower seeds already and the carpet of portulaca blooms in a variety of colors early each day (by late in the day they are closing up). How pretty the multi-colored rainbow is beneath my feet.
And so the garden begins to peak. It will feed us for nearly two months and then we'll clear the debris and the rectangular patch will be bare and readied for winter. It is an everlasting cycle of birth and death, rejuvenation and decay. We stand in the middle of it all and admire it as though we are outsiders in the game.
 But we know better.