Aug 8, 2013

The Harvest

Gardening has never been my strong point.  When I was growing up, the extent of my experience included picking grapes, raspberries and blackberries.  Gardening was my Dad's job.  We weren't allowed to weed, due to my sister's accidental picking of the carrots instead of the weeds.  So when I got married and we moved into a house with a massive garden, I was
a bit intimidated when my husband plowed the ground and we planted rows upon rows of seeds.  Since we water with irrigation water, weeds explode about ten million times the speed of others'.  You let a week go without doing anything, and lo and behold, you're suddenly submerged into a jungle.  I wish I could say I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not.  The first year we were here, we had a young infant, so keeping up on the weeds was an adventure, to say the least.  We practically had to dig our way into the garden.

The second year we planted, I once again had a young baby, so weeding took bottom priority.  We had a family reunion here, and I was embarrassed when one of the activities was weeding our garden.  It was thrilling when rows of green were actually revealed beneath the sea of prickly weeds and tangles of morning glory.

We tried again a third year, and once again, we were defeated by the weeds.  Years four and five, we gave up completely.  We planted pumpkins, and that was it.  No more defeat.  There was no more war to fight, and we let nature have her way.  This year, however, we discovered that our green beans we had bottled from four years ago were just about gone, so we knew it was time to plant a garden.  My husband rototilled faithfully all throughout late winter and early spring, so when it came time to plant, we'd felt like we'd gotten control over Mother Nature.

I knew how awful we were at weeding, so I told my husband that I only wanted to do a small garden, something that we could keep on top of.  We planted peas, beans, carrots and tomatoes.  That was it.  Every week, I faithfully spent hours caring for my plants.  This year, our family depended on it.  I hoed down each row, digging up the tiniest little weeds, and was proud to see that for once, my little green plants were growing bigger than the weeds.

At last, it was time to harvest.  Our peas had somehow survived an adorable yet pesky rock chuck, which was eventually defeated by our neighbors' poison.  After an hour of picking, our large, white buckets were filled to the brim with tender green pea pods.  We carried them inside, turned on a movie, and podded peas while watching "Despicable Me."  The kids helped, in a way.  They carried handfuls of pods to their own section of the sofa, then after several minutes, returned the empty pods.  The peas had made it to their stomachs instead of the bowl we were supposed to be collecting them in.  I didn't mind too much, since the whole purpose of planting peas was to provide nutrition for my children.  Eventually, when our bowl was filled with peas, tiny hands, dirty from muddy pods and leaves, scooped up the peas by the handfuls, and shoved them into their mouths.  I tried again to appreciate that they were eating healthy, but felt a sting of annoyance at watching all of my hard work disappear in a matter of minutes.  We ended up freezing only four pints of peas.

Not long after, the green beans came in.  Harvesting them was my favorite part. One of the times I picked, it started to drizzle.  Between the tapping of the rain as it hit the plants, the chirping of the crickets, and the sweet smell of the tomato plants, the experience was unforgettable.  I almost didn't want to go back inside when I was done.  We ended up getting buckets and buckets and buckets of beans.  We were so desperate for them that I didn't mind the hours of work I was faced with.  I had also just gotten a new pressure/canner, and knew I needed to make good use of the money we had spent.  In the first two days, we bottled 60 quarts of beans.  Not bad, if I do say so myself!

Despite all of my weeks of careful weeding, I had gotten caught up in the harvest and all that was associated with it.  Looking back out into the garden, it's hard to see where our rows of plants are, because, once again, they are hidden behind a wall of weeds.  But at least the weeds are outside of the garden this time, and not inside!