That first summer was idealic. When I close my eyes, I can see my beautiful girls playing in the garden. The strawberry patch was prolific that first year, we picked berries every other day. The girls never waited for them to be cleaned and cut, right into their sweet little mouths they went. Strawberry juice on their hands, strawberry juice on their faces, wiping it all off with whatever they were wearing, such sweet memories. I know these memories are white washed with time, I’m sure there were difficult days with little hands in the garden, but that’s not what I remember.
There were so many watermelons in our patch, I brought many to work to share. It was always a proud day to walk into work carrying a big beautiful Moon & Stars melon. An heirloom variety, the melon is a deep green color with spots of yellow both large and small, the moon and stars if you will. The flesh is a deep red color that is so very sweet. When I touched the knife to the rind the melon would pop right open, it was so filled with juice.
A moment for the tomatoes, I must mention what happened with the cherry variety. The experience left us scarred for many growing seasons. We wouldn’t put a cherry variety back in the garden for at least 3 years, they really left an impression. It started with the way the plant was growing, a vine really, not a tomato plant in the traditional sense. My husband proceeded to try and trellis the beast. The vine ended up covering more than half a plot, at least five trellises were completely entwined. Then the tomatoes started to come in, at first slowly, filling a small bowl every other day, but they quickly gained steam. Soon we were picking bowlfuls every day, which peaked the day we picked five very large bowls of cherry tomatoes. The picking wasn’t easy either. The vine was draped over several trellises which required you to crawl under the vine to reach the tomatoes in the middle. You came out from under there covered in dirt and tomato pollen. That was it for us, we waved the white flag and vowed to skip that variety for a year or two or three.
We ended that first season triumphantly. The freezer was filled with tomato sauce and we had given all kinds of produce away to family and friends. Melons kept coming in September, we even had a few Fall strawberries. I was eager to try some crazy new things, plans were already being made for next year. Such amazing success had come to us, surely we could expand on this with ease. The garden, however, had plans of its own. There were many lessons to be learned yet and we really had only just begun.