Up is something that is almost always good, don’t you think? We keep our hopes up, investors are happy when their stocks go up, and toddlers dream of growing up so they can reach a world designed for adults. In my garden, the scarlet runner vines are halfway up their poles and headed higher. In my world, that is excellent.
Indeed, all my crops are now up, some more than others. This year, the squash plants are growing boisterously. Good news, right? Mm, yes and no.
In the realm of computers, nothing can be better than a good backup, especially when the predictable happens and the original file or its drive gets corrupted. Gardens are tricky to backup, though. If I need three zucchini plants to provide for my summer and winter eating should I plant three? Not a good idea. Often, one or more plants do poorly and either waste away or vie for the title of Runt of the Universe. I might be left with only one plant vainly struggling to produce enough. That’s a big fail.
To be safe, I plant extras – backups. So sensible. This year, in my usual fit of caution, I planted five zucchini, and, wouldn’t you know it, they are all exceeding expectations. I now know I will be up to my eyebrows in zucchini as summer matures.
Another feature of early summer – the weeds are getting uppity. Baby purslanes hug the ground here and there, trying to look insignificant, like innocents peeping out of foxholes. Pigweed seedlings huddle under the squash leaves, biding their time, waiting for the right moment to shoot for the sky. Around the borders, runner grass sends sneaky subterranean roots into the garden area, the better to colonize it. Up to no good, the lot of them.
This early in the growing season, I’m still psyched up and quick to roll up my sleeves and keep the garden free of weeds with regular applications of effort. So far, so good, but thirty plus years of gardening have taught me this enthusiasm won’t last, and by final harvest in the fall, weeds will have firm toeholds all over the garden. It’s not that I give up…exactly…it’s more a question of my time being better spent in harvest and storage. At least, that’s how I explain the situation, and I believe because I would never lie to myself. Honest.
Flowers and flower buds are brightening up the garden as I type. Golden yellow squash blossoms, trumpets of fecundity, flare open every morning. Tight, royal purple buds dot the first-planted swath of bush beans, and a scant few red buds mark the lower reaches of the scarlet runner vines. Hurry up, they say, it’s time to reproduce.
Yes, the garden is looking up, and my spirits are so far up they are height-giddy. That’s the joy of gardening – the present day successes (Swiss chard and raspberries) and the anticipation of what will happen next. Tomorrow, I will serve up the first vegetable marrow of the year, picked small so it will be tender and succulent. Not long after, the first broccoli will go directly from plant to plate, then crop after crop will come into production. The corn and the pumpkins will wrap up the season.
It’s all up, up, up, and not even the uppity pigweeds and purslanes can harsh my high.
Youngsters can watch a kite go up as they learn about the letter u in this video: