Zucchini and String Beans and ‘Maters, Oh My!

Last weekend, we planted the vegetable garden. I had just about given up on it (was truly on the verge of suggesting that my husband might want to convert it into a sport court) because our neighbors’ trees have grown so tall in the last couple of years that much of the garden has been shaded out – obliterated, is more like it. Then, my observant husband pointed out that the next-door neighbor had removed several large, broken branches from the tree that is the worst culprit of all. Not because it had been shading my vegetable garden, mind you, but because those broken branches were dangling perilously over their driveway – directly overhead from where they park one of the family cars. Personally, I don’t care what their motive was for removing those branches – the sun is brilliant once again, and that has made all the difference!

My husband and I have our specific gardening chores all worked out after all these years. He digs the soil amendment (Bumper Crop mixed together with the compost we make ourselves) into the raised beds – and this is the really back-breaking part of the job, but it gives him a great excuse to play in the dirt (and it means he doesn’t have to listen to me whine about how sore my back is afterwards… it’s a win-win situation, really). Then we make a trip to the local nursery for seedlings. Then, I step in with my spade and after much consideration of sun patterns, aesthetics, ripening needs, etc., I plant everything. Job done.

We scaled way back this year, just in case. Only 6 kinds of tomatoes – two years ago, we peaked at 12 varieties and were still eating home-grown pasta sauce six months later. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.

This year, we’re also trying something a little different. After learning the hard way that the side yard does not get enough sun to produce anything edible (kind of like trying to make a certain yarn work well with a stitch pattern that is simply incompatible with its texture), we had to give up on that particular little patch of earth. My husband is not thrilled about the idea of planting what he sweetly refers to as “crops” in the front garden, and I thought I’d never hear the end of it when I snuck some lettuce plants in among the lavender one year. BUT – there are several gigantic clay pots on our back terrace, and I don’t know about you but I get a little bored with planting flowers in them year after year. It’s a nice sunny spot, too, and it suddenly occurred to me that we could plant some of the vegetables in those pots.

After filling the vegetable beds with tomatoes, string beans, zucchini, and cucumbers, and leaving plenty of room for basil and other herbs, those patio pots began to seem like a better and better idea for the overflow. So, very soon they will be home to two different kinds of eggplant, and two different kinds of peppers. Both are attractive, flowering, and edible. So much more interesting than the usual flowers, don’t you think?

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