Planting the crops

While preparing and planting this year's vegetable beds, I was struck by the contrast between the full and vigorously blooming garden beds surrounding the stark but neatly made vegetable beds. Such enthusiastic chaos meets tidiness. Or is the plain openness of the vegetable plot a calming clearing in the exuberant garden jungle at this time of the year?

We are all taught to plant our vegetables in neat rows to maximize the exposure to sunlight. And then the proper thinning of the seedlings will commence in a few days/weeks. I always find the thinning part to be quite troublesome, for I seem to pull up all the seedlings' neighbors, so I leave two or three side-by-side to tough it out for themselves.

While preparing the beds I try to take out as many pebbles and rocks that cultivate themselves to the surface. I could go and get the beautiful sieve that my father used for sifting the soil in his pristine and productive vegetable gardens, but I choose not to take the time. I suspect that I believe that no matter what attention to detail I pursue, my vegetable gardening will never match his perfection.

And I am in awe of those neat rows of tasty lettuces that people are able to create in their productive gar-dens. Have you ever seen the size of lettuce seed? It is minuscule! And carrots - how can that tiny seed produce those gorgeous orange "tubers"?

I have to go with the surefire, big seeds. I love the French haricots vert (green beans). So tasty and tender and when they start producing, you can eat the beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Saturating yourself with green beans for six to eight weeks makes it possible to never have to buy those tired, limp and tasteless string beans sold at the supermarkets. The bushes stay small and never need staking. Lemon cucumber is another favorite, and again, an easy to manage small bush and prolific crop.

Mix in some of the wonderful varieties of sunflowers, plant arugula and radishes for your salads, edge it all with trailing nasturtiums, and the vegetable beds look productive and tasty. It always amazes me that pushing these seeds into the freshly tilled soil will create, in such a short time, delicious treasures from my own garden for my meals. It also greatly deepens my appreciation for our local farmers and their beautiful produce they make available to us at our local Farmers Markets.

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