At least once a year I spend an unreasonable amount of time romanticizing vegetable gardening and making my plans. “Everyone says homegrown vegetables taste delicious! Think of the money we’ll save not buying carrots!” I imagine the kids, faces smudged with sweat and mud, filling baskets with our yard’s bountiful yield without throwing dirt on one another or “accidentally” spraying anyone with the hose.
I’ve attempted container gardening twice. Let us not speak of the first try. The second time two baseball-sized watermelons inexplicably rotted on the vine. By late summer, however, our watering efforts had produced something “edible”: bitter cucumbers and flavorless carrots.
Bless our kids, they chomped down the resulting cucumber slices with gusto. I took one bite and threw mine away. Later I surrendered the remains of my carrot to my oldest daughter.
“Turns out you have to harvest the carrots late in the fall,” I read aloud to Renate from a gardening post. “For the best taste you should wait a frost or two.”
“Ah,” she replied, her tone suggesting she might not be all that interested as to when carrots should be harvested.
It’s going to be different this year. This year I’m PREPARED, and it’s only January. I have researched seed companies; I have identified the simplest plants to grow; I know my USDA Plant Hardiness Zone (6a); I have researched wood with which to build a raised vegetable bed, and loamy soil with which to fill it. “Loamy” is a word I now know.
Also I have three garden companions aged 4, 6, and 8 who like to fill the watering can and dump it out. If the cucumbers are gross, at least we will have made them gross together.
But the cucumbers won’t be gross. This year the cucumbers are going to be DELICIOUS. Loamy soil!