Field of Science

Who rules in the garden?

As someone who was raised by gardeners and who grew up with gardens, it remains a constant source of amazement what some people don't know about gardening. So here is a big rule for gardening: pick your fruits and vegetables when they are ready. Sorry, your garden is not a grocery store or produce stand where you can just buy a cucumber when you desire one. And your garden is not a good place to store produce either. Bascially fruits and vegetables have a relatively short period when they are in prime condition, and that's when you should harvest and enjoy them. This was something Mrs. Phactor had to learn. Her Mother had lowered herself from urban to sub-urban to raise a family, and in those days a grassy lawn that stretched to the margins of the property line was fashionable and not going to be interrupted by anything as rural as a garden. By habit produce came either from the grocery store or a local produce farmer, and this isn't about the qualitative differences, but the practice of only eating some particular produce item, even if in season, only once a week or so. Gardens do generate a certain tyranny over gardeners; fast growing fruits like peas, beans, and zucchini demand that they be picked when ready or you've just wasted your time and effort. In season, the late summer dinner of my youth consisted of sliced tomatoes and sweet corn virtually every night. But eating produce frequently even when in season was an anathema in my in-law's family. So it took a bit of time, no more than a decade or two, for my dearest to learn that the same fruits and vegetables could be eaten often, and in many different ways to break up the monotony (sadly something that even my family could have learned), and were best in their prime condition. So it pains me greatly, when visiting a gardening neophyte, to see things so in need of picking that my hands must remain in my pockets to prevent automatic harvesting. Sometimes you try something diplomatic, and a bit self-serving. "Say, if you're not going to eat those aubergines, may the Phactor consume them?" At a minimum, this calls attention for the need to harvest, and may pay off dividends if they respond, "Certainly you may have them; we ate eggplant last week." And of course, for some fruits, especially the infamous zucchini, waiting one day too long can transform a delicate and delectable 6 inch fruit into a torpedo only suitable for launching into the compost. How much zucchini bread can one person eat? Not enough to keep up with a zucchini in its productive prime.


sarcozona said...

I just made my mom's zucchini bread with one of those torpedos. I'm eating the muffins now and I've frozen a loaf. One giant zucchini makes more than anyone wants to eat, no matter how good the recipe. I think zucchini starts in the nursery should come with warnings about when to pick them!

The Phytophactor said...

Wow! A link to Sarcozona's mom's zucchini bread. Thanks! For some time now the idea of doing recipes from time to time has been returning to my mind. If the recipe for quick zucchini pickles can be found, the favor will be returned.