Monday, August 10, 2009

Who Squashed the Squash?

I had no idea a 10 x 6 garden could inspire so much mystery. Here's the latest chapter....

Last night, Ethan excitedly reported that the squash plant looked like it was dying. He said it was just sort of flat on the ground. It had been a couple of days since I'd admired and fussed over the garden, but last I'd looked, the squash was luxuriant and sassy--easily the most beautiful plant in the garden. It had three gorgeous yellow blossoms that were about six inches across if you were lucky enough to catch them open. So I figured the squash must be just a bit wilted--a bit of water and it should perk right up.

This is what I found, however:

Allyson voiced my thoughts perfectly: "Hey! Why did Lola squash the squash?"

Bill jumped to her defense. "Lola didn't do that. She can't get in the garden."

"Yes she can," I argued. "I've seen her."

"So you think Lola jumped the fence, trampled the squash to a pulp, and left the rest of the garden untouched?"

"I think... I think you never know what that dog is going to do."

So much for my beautiful, fruitless squash plant.

But Guess What We Had With Dinner?
On a lighter note, I'm thrilled to report that we made a salad out of our very own backyard last week! We harvested some leaf lettuce and one little red beefsteak tomato on Friday. I'd been watching the tomatoes closely, and I kept thinking they felt just a bit firm.

On Friday, I was very frustrated to find that a bird had gouged out a little piece with its beak. I guess the birds are better at figuring out when a tomato is ripe than I am.

I cut off about a third of the tomato and diced the rest of it. I counted out four little green leaves for each salad bowl and doled out the tomatoes to everyone but Ethan, who wouldn't touch a tomato with gloves on.

I rolled my eyes when I saw Ethan's pursed lips at his first bite of salad. "It's bitter!" he exclaimed. After her first bite, Allyson said, "Ooh! It's yucky." I figured she was just imitating her older brother.

"But the salad came from our very own garden!" I protested. I pasted on a theatrical grin and enthusiastically took a bite. Suddenly, my lips formed a sharp grimace. "It's bitter!" I said.

To our credit, we all added a bit more salad dressing and then ate our six bites of salad. It wasn't so bad, just different than what we expected. As for the tomato, I found it tolerable. I've never been a raw tomato eater, but this was my first time to eat a tomato straight off the vine. (All of my excitement these past three months has been more about the idea of growing tomatoes than actually eating them.) Still, I think I might learn to like them in time--if the birds don't get them all--just as I've learned to like watermelon, cantaloupe, grapes, apples, and bananas over the last several years.

Bill thought the lettuce and the tomato were delicious, and that's high praise since his usual dinnertime feedback is, "It's not bad" or "I don't mind it."

Now we just need to wait for the one carrot, hidden in the shade of the marigolds and sporting a four-inch tuft of thin green stalks. Then there are Ethan's banana peppers, which are flowering profusely and look pretty promising. Oh, and the green beans are growing like crazy, though they're still a bit small to eat. Hopefully we've had our quota of mysterious vandals.

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