There is a glamorous side to gardening, for sure. The beautiful rows of fresh produce. The radishes that are crunchy and peppery, not dry and mealy – the spinach that really tastes like spinach.
The flavors that come from the garden are like the turned up to 11 version of the factory-farmed vegetables I’ve tasted.
And yet. There is another side.
The garden doesn’t care that I don’t need 10 cups of spinach today. The garden doesn’t know that what I really want is one perfect tomato every other day, and then a nice even dozen on Saturday so I can turn them into sauce.
Instead, the garden churns out spinach at a frightening rate so that I am scrambling to get it processed before the leaves are so large they can be used as blankets. The arugula goes insane and gets long and leggy and bitter overnight. There are no tomatoes, and then there are two and they are treated like royalty, and then there are 10 million and the sauce making and caprese salads don’t stop for weeks.
There is also zucchini, which grows insanely and will produce specimens that rival baseball bats in an hour. If you do not grow zucchini and want some, please let me know. There will be a thousand sometime in mid-July. I will happily trade you for some eggplant, because Curt doesn’t really like it and so doesn’t want to grow it. I love eggplant.
The other not-so-hott side of the garden is the bugs and the dirt. Garden produce isn’t washed on little conveyor belts in factories. It comes out of the ground and into my kitchen, and it carries passengers. Saturday when I was playing with the spinach it was a creepy looking clear spider.
The radishes yesterday came with 3 ants and a ton of dirt (radishes, grown in the ground, do not come out of the ground all scrubbed and pretty. Woe is me.). Broccoli comes with bizarre little green worm/centipede things that are nearly impossible to find – until they float to the top of the wash water and end up on the faucet and the dish soap bottle.
I wouldn’t give it up for the world – worms on the dish soap notwithstanding.