August 10, 2010
Everyone has been talking about how late their tomatoes are this year, how thick the aphids, how persistent the winter and spring rains. I bought crates of produce from the farmer’s markets, afraid my garden would never yield to my pestering. I canned the fruits of someone else’s labor convinced I was a poor excuse for a backyard farmer. I worried and complained and checked status with other people and at some point during all that fussing the unthinkable happened. Lush, red tomatoes began to sag from my plants! Long green peppers dangled like Texas earrings and I found long fuzzy green beans hiding near the ground under their bushes and creeping up the bamboo teepees I made.
Sure, there have been bushels of teasing green tomatoes loafing on the vines for months, but they didn’t seem to be ripening. The beans barely seemed to have any flowers. Even the squash, which I was hiding in brownies last year at this time had only a few male flowers blossoming here and there. Where all this fresh deliciousness suddenly came from is a mystery to me.
It’s really an excellent lesson to a relatively new gardener. Each year is different – tomatoes last year in May, tomatoes this year in August! It makes me think back to the Farmer’s Almanac which was sold in every store in the county I grew up in. I didn’t have a slightest suspicion of what it was used for until I was nearly 30 years old and thousands of miles away from the farmers who used it. I currently use Pam Pierce’s charts in Golden Gate Gardening like a Bible but I secretly wish I had my own Farmer’s Almanac. I wonder if any of its secrets would be applicable to life here in the Bay Area. I don’t even know where I would find one. Amazon? Who knows. For now, I’ll stick to Pam Pierce and continue to be surprised year after year. It’s a good thing I know how to roll with the punches – and I’m within 10 miles of about 15 Farmer’s Markets!
I hope all you other urban homesteaders are starting to see tomatoes, peppers, squash and beans as well!