This morning I actually said to A., "I hate to leave my garden for a whole week. But I guess I've done everything I can to prepare it for my absence."
Apparently, the garden is my fifth child.
Then again, all my children are coming with me tomorrow when we leave for Blackrock for a week, but the garden will be left to fend for itself.
My preparation mostly consisted of stripping the pea and bean plants of every last small pea and bean, so that I don't come home to overly matured legumes that have caused the plants to stop producing.
Can we just talk for a moment about how incredible it is that I'm still harvesting peas in mid-August?
Peas are a cool-weather crop. They stop producing when it gets hot and dry. At Blackrock, I would rarely get more than one good harvest from the pea plants before they would wither away. But here, this year, it's been so cool and wet that it took forever for the peas to start producing anything at all, but once they did they don't seem to be giving up.
I did pull the shelling peas out this morning, though. They were starting to die, and were harboring an alarming colony of slugs (another result of our cool, wet summer), so I decided to rip them out. I left the snap peas in, though, after harvesting a full two quarts of snap peas from three plants.
The carrots have also been outstanding this year. A. planted a full two packets of seed in April, and they all came up. We started eating the thinnings from the carrots about two months ago, and we've had a steady supply since. The kids more or less free-range in the carrot rows, eating however many they want whenever they want, and we still have incredible quantities of quite large carrots out there.
Unfortunately, the weather that has been so beneficial for the peas and carrots has been very, very sad for the summer crops. Particularly the cucumbers and tomatoes.
There are dozens upon dozens of tomatoes on my sixteen plants and not a single one was ripe. Not one. What a screw. And here we are facing down a killing frost in about a month.
As I was working my way around the tomato forest to get to another patch of green beans to harvest, I spied . . . is that red?
Yes! It's the much-anticipated First Tomato!
I found it in the very center of a remarkably bushy Juliet plant. I haven't been checking the interiors of the plants much, figuring the tomatoes on the outside that are more exposed to the sun would ripen first. I guess I was wrong, because I found the one Juliet that was entirely ripe, and then a few more that were almost ripe, and all were way inside the tomato jungle.
Cubby was in the garden with me when I found it, and he was so excited that he raced into the house yelling to the household at large that there was a ripe tomato.
That's my boy.
Everyone came out to admire the tomatoes I had found. And then I ate the ripe one. Myself. Oh yes, I did. It's a tradition.
I now have some hope that when we get back in a week there will be a lot more red to greet us in the tomato patch. That would be a sweet homecoming indeed.
And in the meantime, we have lots of snap peas and carrots for our long drive tomorrow.
Nothing like homegrown carrot sticks.
Farewell, beloved garden. Ripen lots of tomatoes while I'm gone, okay?