Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mary, Mary, how does your garden grow?

Rather well, thank you!

We have planted heirloom tomatoes in two varieties: black cherry (supposedly with true black fruit) and Hawaiian currant (no bigger than a pea). Next to them are yellow pear tomatoes. Can you tell we go for the mini? I found out the hard way that in my garden, the shorter the span from flower to harvest the better. A big tomato will be eaten or somehow ruin itself with water spots or one of a thousand other tomato maladies before reaching ripeness. Get 'em in, get 'em out is my tomato motto.

Darling Husband and I cook with a lot of fresh peppers, so we have jalapenos and Thai style chilies growing. The trick to jalapenos is to leave them on the plant long enough to crack or turn red or both. That's when you know the flames of hell have been sucked up through the soil by the roots and deposited firmly in the jalapeno where they belong. Thai chilies, by the way, grow straight up like witch hats.

Some years, our garden has stopped at the tomato and hot pepper point, but this year we have a cucumber plant and two zucchinis. It's hard to watch the squash blossoms bloom and not pick them, stuff them, batter them and fry them. It's also hard to get much of a zucchini crop if you pick all the flowers. We're being as patient as we can. I'm also pleased to boast half a dozen flowers on my cucumber plant, which is curling tendrils around my ornamental mini garden fence as if it's expecting a tornado of Oz proportion.

Of course, this doesn't count our half whiskey barrel, home to our yearly herb garden. This year we've planted oregano, short leaf basil, Thai basil, thyme, flat leaf parsley and sage. Our herbs always grow into unruly bushes, thanks to a wonderful compost mixture my parents "make" behind their barn with various yard clippings. It's also the reason my tomato plants come up to my chest, I think.

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