We have had an early spring, and even summer-like weather here in Missouri. I think most of the country has had warmer than usual weather. The weather is glorious, the flowers (and weeds) are happy, and the garden is calling.
We have planted lettuce three times now, once from seed and twice from transplants. And we have harvested not one leaf. The rabbits are getting nice and fat off our bounty. I have organic rabbit repellant, which has worked well in the past, but our frequent rains have made it a job to keep up with respraying. I saw a fat one in the garden this week, when the trees were still dripping rain from the latest storm. I ran across the yard, shrieking at it to get out of my lettuce. I’m sure the neighbors thought it was hilarious. It was satisfying, until I realized how crazy I looked.
We hesitated to put tomato plants out until the danger of frost was past, so we just got ours out a couple of weeks ago. They are starting to flower now and we are already impatient for homegrown tomatoes. I wish we had been more on the ball, and less cautious, so we would be closer to red, ripe tomatoes with flavor. Patience…
We have a small garden – 8 feet by 4 feet, so we only have three tomato plants. We have tried to grow four in the past, but they really don’t have enough room. Around the edges of what are now small plants, we will have basil, sweet peppers, garlic and some marigolds for color. In a good year that gives us enough produce to eat all the fresh tomatoes we want, make tomato sauce once or twice, and make pesto all summer, along with a good supply of fresh basil for cooking.
Of course, the last few years have not been good years. I think we have harvested a total of four tomatoes in the last three years. One year was too wet and cool, last year was too hot and dry and every year we battle the squirrels for the tomatoes. As soon as the fruit starts to turn they are out there, sitting on the tomato cages, eating like mindless little machines, spitting seeds out one side of their mouths and skins out of the other.
Rich is ready to give up on homegrown tomatoes, but I am determined. We’ll see if this year is any better. I can already taste the fresh tomatoes, warm from the sun, dripping off the edge of a BLT. Or diced and sautéed for a quick pasta sauce, complete with garlic and basil harvested minutes before we cook them. Is it July yet?