Thursday, October 27, 2011

Goodbye Garden

For the last four summers, we have grown vegetables in raised garden beds out behind the garage. It's a ridiculously sunny spot and gardening thus far has been fairly fool-proof; we add some mushroom compost in the spring, plant some plants, and make sure they get enough water through the hot summer months. In the fall, we pick what's left and compost the rest before the first hard freeze.

The thing is, I'm a lousy gardener. In my head, I'm supposed to be great at it; it goes along with the other things I love to do. But I'm just not. Part of it is that I don't have a lot of background knowledge about gardening, but the bigger factor is simply that I don't give the gardens the time and attention they need. I am not a fan of the hot, humid summer days, and I would much rather be cooking in my kitchen than gardening in my yard.

This year, knowing we'd be traveling a lot of the summer, we kept it simple: three tomato plants and three basil plants. I wasn't planning on planting anything in the second bed, but at the last minute Finn and I planted some pumpkin seeds and a handful of snap peas. In May, when the leaves are shiny and new and the plants just a glimmer of what they will someday be, the garden is abundant with hope, and I am giddy with anticipation. And most years, with very little effort on my part, we get a tremendous harvest.

Tomatoes and basil, June 1st

Watering his pumpkin

This year didn't go so well. There are summers like that, I suppose. This one was particularly dry around here - I think it rained twice the entire month of August. But the vegetables just didn't take off like they usually do. One tomato plant didn't produce anything at all, and the other two produced far less than I was expecting. The pumpkin plant got some kind of bug infestation in mid-August, and the peas never even sprouted. Fortunately, the basil plants did all right.

Tuesday's weather was sunny and bright, with temps hovering in the mid-seventies. I took advantage of the mild weather to harvest what I could from the vegetable beds and to say goodbye to the gardens. Even though it wasn't the most rewarding year, I did learn a few things...and I know that by late April I'll be making plans to start anew. That's the great thing about seasons.

And with this final harvest comes the opportunity to make as much pesto as I can possibly squeeze out of those basil leaves. It's never as much as you think it will be, but boy, does homemade pesto taste yummy in the middle of the winter. Finn and I spent the afternoon picking and cleaning the leaves, peeling garlic, and mixing up a giant batch of pesto to freeze.

Pesto Pro
"C'est moi, le chef"
iona gets a taste

Soon those 4 x 4 square boxes will be covered in snow, my gardening gloves will be packed away, and sun-ripened tomatoes will be a distant memory. But there will be pesto. There will always be pesto.


  1. Mmm...send me your pesto recipe! Love it. I would be a horrible gardener because I can't even remember to water my house plants. That said, I would still like to try my hand at it someday when we get settled somewhere. Ta-ta little Morrison garden, see you next year!

  2. Pesto is one of the few things I don't use a recipe for...but here's my very scientific method:

    1) put 4 peeled cloves of garlic into the food processor - chop
    2) add 2 big handfuls of washed basil leaves - pulse
    3) slowly pour enough olive oil in to make it look like pesto
    4) add pine nuts (almonds are also good) - pulse
    5) stir in parmesan
    6) salt and pepper to taste