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Full contact gardening at the farmette

It's a rainy day at the farmette - and I'm glad I got the whole big vegetable garden in yesterday. My body, on the other hand, is not so glad. I'm a bit creaky today... I've decided to go full-bore into the root veggies this year, with only peas, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers as the above-the-ground treats. Gardening is a truly miraculous endeavour. You take these tiny, wizened pods that are barely the size of a pinhead, stick them in the ground, hope for rain, get rain, hope for sun, get sun. Weed, weed, weed. And voila! Six weeks later, the beets are ready to be plucked and pickled. Amazing.

I kind of went nuts on the beets. Put in six half-rows of three different varieties. This year, I'm trying out the Robin variety from Vesey's. It's a new one - kind of a miniature size - like baby dill pickles, only it's beets. I'm hoping to be able to can them whole. Partly because I like to experiment, but mostly because I'm lazy and don't really like having my hands take on that pink-purple hue for a week around the middle of July.

I upped the ante on peas, too - the Legacy variety - which apparently produces eight to ten peas per pod, and two pods per node. Nice!

My modus operandi for these is to position a tomato cage, lace some string up and down between the hoops and dig a trench around the outside perimeter. Then plant each pea seed about an inch apart. As the vine grows, I have to make sure it latches on and creeps upward rather than outward.

Last year, I only had three cages. This year, it's six. Tender, sweet peas that taste like candy and make me reminisce about Sandy and I raiding the pea patch when we were kids at Frome - and incurring Ma's wrath. Now that I'm grown, I may even be able to resist them long enough to freeze a bag or two. Or not. They are THAT good.

Of course we planted scads of tomatoes. Sixteen Roma plants for canning and four Early Girls for salads and bacon and tomato sandwiches. Yum.

I'm hoping to top last year's record 31 pints of sauce, six pints of chutney and eight pints of chili sauce. Not that it's a contest. I just like to squeeze as much out of the bounty of the garden as humanly possible. It helps that our local Co-op has such a great seedling supplier. They're hardy. They're drought resistant. And they produce about a bushel of fruit per plant.

While we accomplished a lot yesterday, there's still a lot to do.

We've decided to plant the small pad out exclusively in potatoes. That's Rob's realm. He's the potato guy. He's putting in Kennebecs and Chieftains - again from the Co-op. They've proven to be great in the production department as well - serving up a mess of spuds that will be stored and boiled, mashed, scalloped and fried all winter long - hopefully.

We're also moving the sunflowers out of the veggie garden and will instead be planting the Russian monsters around the outside of the yard fence. The idea is to have them peek over the top when they hit their ideal height of ten or 12 feet. I'm envisioning a halo of sunny, yellow faces looking at me while I lounge in the back sunroom, reading a book and listening to music. Right - I'll more likely be out there weeding the beds and rolling around in the dirt.

I don't mind working in the garden. It doesn't really feel like work - until the next morning (see above). And I have to say, the rewards in the fresh, tasty, super-local morsels that come out of it are more than worth the effort. Until next week. Cheers.

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