Monday, February 24, 2014


Gardening offers so many metaphors for life. For one thing, a garden is always in process. Even if you sat down and carefully drew out a detailed garden plan and followed it exactly, you would find upon completion that you wanted to make edits. That's just the nature of things. You learn as you go along. You see what works and what doesn't. You make edits, improvements. This isn't terribly different from life, I hope.

Gardening demands experimentation, as well. In Michigan, my Cherokee Purple tomatoes were magnificent. In Florida, they were something like a disaster. And so I had to look for tomato varieties that might work better for me here. Enter Gardener's Delight, Brown Berry Cherry, Black Plum, Brandywine, Black Krim, and my favorite--in terms of names--Beam's yellow pear. Some have done better than others. Some I'm just now growing seedlings for their trial in the garden. At the end of each season, I take careful notes on each variety so that as time goes on, I can make better choices.

Sometimes the experiments are with plants I've never heard of. Someone on Twitter suggested that I try growing Rat Tail radishes. I thought, why not? They sounded interesting enough, if only because they don't really produce root vegetables but rather seed pods that you pick much like beans. I also liked the the suggestion that I could pickle them. The experiment seemed to going rather badly, though, until last week. All I was getting was tons of leaf growth on plants over five feet tall. Then, suddenly, they started to flower profusely. And now I have the most curious and tasty snack I've ever grown.

The pretty flowers of Rat Tail radish

The spicy little seed pods of Rat Tail

I've also been experimenting with different varieties of sugar snap and snow peas. I've grown accustomed to the beautiful magenta and pink flowers of the Dwarf Grey sugar snaps, but they never produced peas for me. This season, I tried Oregon Sugar Pod II snow pea. Appropriately, they are producing white flowers and a continuous supply of peas. 

Fresh peas are just behind those flowers

I've finally had the courage to pop a nasturtium flower in my mouth, which then led me to put them in all of my salads and even eat the leaves. 

This nasturtium is getting a little
friendly with my ant statue.

Finally, the greatest experiment, the biggest leap of faith I've taken in the garden continues to yield results. As I was trimming back the tomato plants today, encouraging them to focus all of their energy on ripening the fruits they have on before I pull them up and replace them with the spring season plants, I noticed something in two of my pineapple plants. 

A fruit is on the move

We'll be eating pineapples again this summer. These will be particularly special because they are fruiting from the crowns that I cut off of my first homegrown pineapples we ate last February.

I agree with Ulysses, who says, "How dull it is to pause, to make an end," in life and in the garden. As long as I continue to experiment, I may find my fair share of failures, but I'll also find that the garden is forever "a bringer of new things."


  1. Sharing this with Dorothy, who has a little postage-stamp plot in Wiesbaden. :-)