Saturday, July 25, 2009

Keep an eye out for those great tomatoes

A watched tomato never ripens.

No matter how much I stand and stare, my tomatoes will not ripen into salad fodder. I do not have super powers!

But that's the best part, right? Wandering outside for the morning look-see and finding a red one -- or at least trending toward red. Want to pick that baby right off the stem and pop it in the mouth. Savor that homegrown taste. A burst of sunshine.

But not yet. Still harvesting broccoli and lettuce. Ate some fingerling zucchini and flowers in a salad. My lone surviving crookneck is growing ever so slowly and has not blossoms yet. It's next-door neighbor, a green squash, is ready to flower.

On the side yard, my pole beans have climbed the trellis almost to six feet or so. Had to cajole them up the trellis, as one of the plants had a fixation on the nearby wildflowers. It was tough to break up the relationship, but it was going nowhere -- I could see that and had to intervene. A few of the marigolds are flowering. I grew them from seed and they're taking awhile.

I'm making plans for next season's garden. I'm going to let the strawberries spread out and prepare for next spring. The garden next to the porch will become the berry patch and I'll move on to new ground for all the rest. I have a patch of grass than gets almost-all-day sun. The grass doesn't grow very well as I've never given it much attention. That's the next patch of lawn due for replacement. Already looking forward to next season...

Tomorrow is my father's birthday. He'd be 86 today but passed away in 2002. He wasn't much of a gardener when I was a kid. But when his nine kids began growing up and leaving, he turned to gardening. Ornamental, as you can grow plants all year in central Florida. He did grow kumquats, more for their looks than their taste. You can eat the grape-sized citrus fruit, and make some terrific jams and jellies from them. But so much easier to snag an orange for a snack.

My mom died young and my father later married again. This time to a dedicated gardener. Their house in Ormond Beach featured all kinds of tropical and subtropical ornamentals. What really pleased him, I think, was the well-manicured lawn, mowed weekly by a lawn service. No longer did he have to wait for one of his sons to return from the beach to mow the grass. For us, surfing came before lawns and gardens. Not true any more -- for the most part. My Florida brothers all have their own gardens, and spend more time on them than surfing. As for me, well, the waves just aren't that great on the beaches of Cheyenne.

Dad and Connie were members of the volunteer gardening corps at St. Brendan's Catholic Church where Chris and I were married 27 years ago. The gardens looked fine when the family gathered at the church for his funeral mass in spring of 2002.

Dad -- here's a gardening birthday wish from your eldest son.

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