garden of memories

on april 7th i dragged the tiller out of grandpa's garden shed and got to work turning up the soil for the first time since the fall. it's always a triumph getting gramps' tiller to start--pulling the choke, then the cord and shifting the throttle forward quickly enough that the little devil doesn't stall on you. once i got him going, i stuffed my ears with tissue and walked alongside it for an hour or so while it crawled along at a snail's pace, digging away at the sleepy, crusty ground. despite the noise and the worm casualties, tilling is relaxing and meditative. i've also inherited a superb bit of soil from grandpa rasmussen. he's worked hard over the years to perfect its consistency and keep it full of enough organic material to fight back its natural, super clay-o-rama tendency. after tilling the turff about five times over, sinking the blades deeper with each round, i made the rows, using twine and stakes to keep me straight, and planted all our leafy greens. i was determined to get them in at the earliest possible moment, and now, six weeks later, i have achieved some small successes. except for the pea seeds eaten by quail and the lettuce sprouts also ravaged by quail and some spinach gone AWOL, things are coming along nicely.

the best thing was going to france for 10 days when my radish sprouts were about 3 inches tall, and the lettuces and peas were but babes in arms (or little sproutlings in soil). because when i got back, there were radishes ready to harvest and lettuce to thin!

radishes are indeed a magical vegetable. ready to eat a mere 30 days after planting. i've never liked them, but i feel obliged to try again with ones picked fresh from the garden. i sliced one onto a tuna sandwich on saturday while planting the summer garden, and i liked the spiciness. the pinks are much spicier than the whites. i chalk up learning to grow and also enjoy the radish as a triumph of this year's garden.

apart from some irregular watering, which i'm now correcting, the spring garden is coming along fine. i planted the next installment of beets and lettuce, and thinned everyone else.

and cursed the quail.

so. this memorial day weekend was slated from the beginning of time to be summer garden planting weekend. it's past may 15th, now the safe zone with next to no threat of frost. i can't count the times i just stopped and stared in thought at the garden, figuring space and what to plant and where, observing the sun and what sprinklers were doing what damage where. on friday, mom and i went to Cook's to buy the plants--tomatoes of several varieties, red peppers and a couple hot peppers, cucumber, a couple eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini, and winter squash. with all the prep work done and a little overthinking, i pulled the tiller out once more, filled it with gas, and got it to start on the third try. huzzah! good thing i tilled six weeks ago. made for much better time of it on saturday.

i should mention that the night before i spent a couple hours weeding out a bunch of junk. those plus 8 hours saturday equal. . . . . . .

squash (i skimped a little on space for their sprawling vines, but we'll manage)

eggplant and cucumber (the transplants in the left row), three rows of bush beans (green and yellow), and peppers. i'm proud to say i did these rows by eye instead of using the twine. they're not perfect, but they're close.

tomatoes!!! and . . . . yes. . . .9 basil plants. **nervous grin** my pesto ambitions are indeed great. i know the potential of the basil, and i will be prepared. the heirloom tomatoes at the nursery weren't the healthiest of plants, so i planted only one. also a cherry tomato, pear tomato, 2 romas, and four largish tomatoes.

so. we're ready to go. fresh lettuce, spinach, kale, chard and beet greens will be next to join us at the table. i can't wait to try new recipes and to share our leafy fruits. what a perfect wet, temperate spring to get things going. the best part has been having grandpa by my side, "snoopervising" as he says. it's because of him that i'm doing this, and i'm glad he can be a part of it still in his 94th year, even if it's just observing from the garden house, telling me stories of rhubarb from his childhood.