Every spring for the last six years, my parents have come home to Marblehead from Florida. And every spring it is freezing cold and raining for what feels like forever (we always say “for forty days and forty nights.”) My dad complains constantly, wrapping himself in blankets and wearing hats inside the house.
But when the sun does come out, he heads to the garden, or the “back forty’—(just noticed the forty theme; wonder what that means?) We put the first 6×8 raised bed in about three years ago on a patch of land close by our next door neighbor. We agreed to plant some of what they wanted and to share the bounty in exchange. We added a second bed after the wildly popular results of that first season.
We started with tomatoes, cucumbers, peas, beans, peppers and lettuce. We have added arugula, squash, corn and potatoes. We tried carrots unsuccessfully; we ended up with far too many jalapenos. We have garlic and onions. We argue about what we will plant. Dad said no to the corn—he was overruled by me and mom. We learn as we go.
In May, the garden is weeds and expectations. Little by little, during brief breaks in the clouds, we clean it up, add soil and nutrients, and plant. Dad just found potatoes already growing (next to the asparagus I forgot to harvest) which, with the squash, won’t be ready until October. We will save those for our Christmas Eve celebration. By then we will have had countless salads; bruschettas and panzanellas; carbonara and corn on the cob. Thinking about that first tomato helps get us through another gray, rainy day in May.