I am very fortunate that I get to grow things. Flowers, tomatoes, herbs, piano students …
This spring we put the three raised beds together in the kitchen garden. I added some dirt and some good soil and some cotton burr compost to welcome the plants and seeds I had purchased.
The plan was to have watermelons in one bed, strawberries, carrots and parsley in the middle bed, and herbs – rosemary, oregano, French tarragon, two types of basil, borage – and a cherry tomato in the third bed.
Plus a line of marigolds along the long side of the beds, and some extra marigolds in the middle bed to separate the strawberries from the carrots and parsley.
The strawberry plant immediately set up camp and merrily blossomed and set fruit.
It also produced one runner after the other. The carrots did ok but I only harvested a few and the ones remaining in the ground got woody (because I left them in the ground too long). I had been looking forward to fresh parsley but somehow it didn’t taste – right? good? When I discovered black swallowtail caterpillars on the parsley and the carrots I just let them be. They are not hurting any other plant, and they’ll turn into beautiful butterflies. The caterpillars helped me identify a weed among the daylilies in a different part of the backyard as a Wild Carrot:
The watermelon didn’t to anything – absolutely nothing – until maybe a month ago, and by now I have one spindly-looking vine, perhaps one or two blossoms. No fruit, nothing. The borage grew well at first but then died, the French tarragon took its time to decide whether the environment in the raised bed was to its liking, but the basils, the rosemary and the oregano grew well from the beginning.
Best plant of them all? The cherry tomato. I like cherry tomatoes and found an orange one at the local grocery store. The plant looked healthy enough but its growth has surpassed my wildest dreams. That one plant – because I didn’t stake it – covers the 4’x4′ (or 5’x5′?) bed, plus it is spilling over and has half-way covered the strawberry/parsley bed. It is also by at least a foot spilling over the edges of the bed onto the paths around it. The oregano is completely covered and invisible. The rosemary valiantly pushes through the tomato plant, as does the bigger of the two basil plants. The French tarragon can only be seen if you know where to look. Every day I gather one or two bowls full of the sweetest cherry tomatoes I have ever tasted. They taste best fresh from the vine, still warm from the sun. Almost every day I share with neighbors, students, and Mark has taken at least two bowls to work to share with colleagues.
To my utter surprise and delight, I actually *can* eat them right off the vine as they are perfectly clean: no dirt (splashing up from the ground), no insects, just tomato.