I have to admit, every year, our garden reacts differently. It gives me a new challenge each season, enabling me to educate myself and learn more interesting facts and solutions for gardening organically. I consider myself a meliorist of sorts as I conquer the complicated world of growing my own food.
This year, 2020, we had an early frost when the blooms started, and our apple crop was relatively small. Our largest peach tree snapped in half in the wind, and the other peach trees blooms froze just like the apples. Our little pear tree has hung in there but produces very little fruit. I think we got five pears this year.
Early in the season, our lettuces, chard, and kale went utterly crazy, and there were so many greens I had to dedicate myself to salads and smoothies for a few weeks on end. I also learned to make vegetarian dog food with our kale, carrots, beets, and other items. The dogs have loved it and benefited as well as us from our garden bounty.
Later in the season, our tomatoes, basil, peppers, eggplant, spaghetti squash, and cucumbers grew like weeds. I made numerous bags of pesto and roasted tomatoes and stored them in the freezer. We ate our way through the eggplant and spaghetti squash, and we continue working through a variety of peppers. My favorite is the shishito peppers that we sauté on high heat with a little olive oil till their skins blacken, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, and enjoy. That has become one of my favorite snacks before dinner.
The cucumbers, wow! They won’t stop producing. We have eaten countless salads, used them for appetizers, martinis, and made more jars of pickles than I can count. The herbs continue to grow, and when they get too big, I hang them upside down and dry them to use later in the year.
There are moments I look at all the food we have grown and become overwhelmed by the countless hours of work I have put into it. Then there are other days where I am so proud of what we have grown, the stash we have for the winter months, and so pleased and grateful to share our bounty with our family and friends. Gardening, I have experienced, is a real labor of love.
Let’s not forget my girls, Ginger, Olive, Clove, Pepper, and Sage, my chickens, who produce five eggs a day. Five eggs a day for two of us is a bit much, to say the least. But again, it allows us to contribute our homegrown food towards enhancing other’s health.
As the weather changes and our gardening comes to an end for the year, I appreciate the gift of time that it gives back to me. However, there is always the feeling of melancholy the seeps over me, missing my heightened senses as I bite into a perfectly ripe tomato still warm from the sun.