Last summer, before I started school, I tore out the fence around my 30X40 veggie garden, dug up the perennial plants and mowed it flat. It’s lawn, now, though volunteer arugula replaces the crabgrass and clover we usually grow for grass.
I knew I wouldn’t have time to tend, water, weed and harvest my usual edamame, snow peas, okra, several heirloom varieties of eggplant and tomato, garden greens and every kind of salad leaf, curly kale, strawberries, garlic, ground cherries, onions, blue potatoes, zukes and butternut squash, melons, peppers and gourds.
But I was miserable by fall, buying rock hard flavorless tomatoes at the store. I had underestimated how much my eye and brain are fed by pumpkins on the vine, gourd shapes, the production-mode of canning tomatoes. I even missed weeding. No garden toad, no crunchy asparagus snapped off the stem and eaten raw.
I still had — have — the cherry trees, the self-sustaining gooseberries, raspberries and currants, rhubarb along the back fence, and I stuck a few veggie garden plants in the front flower beds but it wasn’t the same. I have my herb garden as always, near the kitchen door, and get a handful of blueberries from the bushes in front.
So this summer, I hauled four boards out of a dumpster at school and brought them home to make a very small raised bed. Three heirloom tomato plants and two super sweet 100 cherry tomatoes. I usually eschew hybrids but the sweet 100s fill an Ann Tubbs majolica or Theresa Yondo porcelain bowl on my table all summer, and the kids eat them like candy. We dry them and seal them in jars for crunchy snacks and winter pestos.
I keep telling myself that’s it… but what’s summer without grilled eggplants, peppers and zukes? I am eyeing the lumber fromthe treehouse the kids are taking apart, thinking maybe eggplants… and in the fall, I may set up my hoop greenhouse again for greens into the cold months. For now I’ll spice up the grocery store salads with fresh herbs and leaves of the arugula I can still find in the lawn.