During the course of a garden there are a number of stages to go through. The first is preparation – amending the soil in the fall and spring, fixing or running irrigation lines, deciding what to grow and where in the garden to grow it. Then comes initiation, that time in late winter or early spring when one has spent months looking at seed catalogs, researched different varieties, and has just looked at so many great pictures of what can be grown, that the seeds have to be started. We then move into anxious anticipation in late spring or early summer, that time of year when the nights are warm enough that the plants won’t suffer much when they make the transition from protected seedlings to fending somewhat for themselves in the garden. Our garden is now in the phase of the great tease.
For the last few weeks and for a few weeks to come the garden is only producing small amounts of some plants. We get a few tomatoes, but from only a few early varieties. We get some beets, but not enough to can. These and the few other vegetables we get starts to whet our appetite, much like appetizers do before dinner. The other thing that is working to build our appetites and tease us is the growth of everything. Just a week ago there were only a few small tomatillo lanterns forming. Now there are lots of larger lanterns and the plants are much bigger. The peppers and tomatoes are setting lots of fruit and what has been there is ripening faster. We can watch, almost as we look at them, the squash, gourds and cucumbers grow, both the vines and fruit. We know the time is getting close to when we will be catapulted from small leisurely harvests to all-out inundation. We already have the canning jars and large pots up by the garden so we are almost ready.
I think of this quiet time as the eye of the storm. The rush of spring planting is over and the frenetic pace of harvest is not yet upon us. For now we can visually enjoy the garden as it teases us with what is to come. I think by this time next month our salsa and pickle supplies will be replenished and I will be looking for new and interesting recipes to preserve the harvest. We will have savored our first big selection of homegrown tomatoes, maybe even with homemade cheese and our basil. I should have enough hot peppers to make another hot sauce and the tomatillos should be everywhere we can stash them until we have a day to make the salsa.
Better fasten your seat belts, it’s about to get bumpy.