At times over the past few months, I have wondered about the wisdom of planting even a few vegetables in our tiny backyard garden - though it was meant primarily to teach Matthew about where food comes from, it seems like I'm the one who's done most of the work. Planting the seeds and tiny plants in late spring was supposed to be a joint effort between Matthew and me, but after planting two tiny zucchini plants, he sighed and said that he was so tired that he just couldn't do any more so he would just climb up into his fort and watch me from there! From that vantage point, he would occasionally shout words of encouragement/instruction to me as I knelt on my floor-washing pad and dug in the dirt: "good job mom;" "make sure you dig that hole deep enough;" "don't forget to plant the four flower plants I picked." Furthermore, I don't think he had any appreciation for the fact that the produce we planted were mostly of the organic, non-genetically modified kind. I hunted particularly hard for an organic rhubarb plant and for organic and non-genetically-modified (NGM) heirloom tomatoes.
Over the past week, however, I have started to forget the labour involved in regular watering, weeding, pruning and the resulting mosquito bites...because we're starting to get veggies. Though some of our efforts produced nothing but dead plants (kale, cilantro, some herbs), our zucchini plants are boasting quite an impressive array of flowers and the start of the zucchini themselves. The rhubarb has flourished from no stems to eleven and the pepper plants are flowering. Oh, and our four tiny rows of organic carrots have tops that are about five inches long...though the carrots themselves are incredibly tiny yet. Best of all, our eight tomato plants are producing tons of green tomatoes and we've now picked about ten ripe ones. Perhaps because they're NGM and organic (or perhaps just because they're rather odd plants), the tomatoes are rather mishapen. They look rather like Matthew's cheeks (the ones that are not on his face), with two large globes separated by a crack that runs from top to bottom. The tomatoes are massive (not far in size from aforementioned cheeks) and possess an odd colouring: transitioning from red on the bottom third to greenish blackish brown on the top third. But they taste utterly delicious...like tomatoes should taste, like the tomatoes I remember from my childhood. They ooze juiciness and are soft and lush.
While Matthew is generally ok eating tomatoes (in sauces, cold or grilled sandwiches, etc), I don't think I've ever seen him eat tomatoes like he has in the past week since we've brought our own to the table. There's something to be said for eating produce minutes after picking it. We've had toasted tomato sandwiches, grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches and tomato/cucumber mini-salads, all with our fresh 'black kim' heirloom tomatoes. And yesterday, I stirred two gigantic, diced tomatoes into the pasta I made us for lunch and Matthew ate a huge bowl full - about three times as much as he might usually have eaten. His expressions of pleasure over these tomatoes and the prospect of freezing some of our abundance for winter sauces are what has convinced me that, regardless of the occasional inconvenience attached to growing bits of summer produce, we will be planting again next year.