Happily, most of the seedlings I started this spring have come along quite nicely and far exceeded my (previously somewhat unrealistically high and then dramatically low) expectations. Many have matured at different rates, even among the same varieties, which could be something of a boon as crops come in. My little tomatoes, which were (I felt, embarrassingly) behind schedule when planted, have more or less caught up to the larger ones my folks planted at the same time. Okra's been slow to grow, probably due to the cold--not a big deal since it was mainly planted for its looks (do I even like okra? I don't know). The melons, likewise, are probably not going to reach maturity before the season's over--something of a disappointment, after such a promising start, but they were set back considerably by an early planting followed by temperatures below their tolerance. I knew I was probably pushing my luck with the melons, but there's something so sensual, almost magical, about them that it inspires me to try, to hope for that luscious bounty. Next year I'm going to have a wheelbarrow full of them, mark my words.
In the meantime, we've got root vegetables. Yesterday I did a first thinning of the radishes (some having already been eaten), turnips, beets and carrots. Some folks say to thin early, but there are a couple good reasons to do it later: one, no one felt like doing it before and there was enough else to tend to; two, instead of pulling a bunch of puny seed leaves you yank out a nice crop of baby veggies. Actually, if we'd thinned the seedlings to begin with the second thinning might have produced a slightly better crop, but it's hard to say. Also doesn't matter. What matters is that we got eight pounds of roots, four pounds of beet greens and three pounds of turnip greens out of the garden.
It borders on silly, how much it excites me, the surprise of their emergence from the ground, the shape of them, their color, the culinary possibilities, much less actually eating them... I'll admit I was slightly less thrilled after spending a couple of hours cutting and washing all the greens, and then trimming and chopping (and cooking them into the largest "chard" casserole that's ever been attempted), but there are reasons we do this, beyond simple pleasure. I don't think I need to name them.