Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Behold, Nature's Bounty

The first Honeybunch tomatoes are ripening this week, making me a happy camper. What does not make me happy are the hordes of itty-bitty mosquitoes and black flies that swoop in and attack me as I pick tomatoes. These are little mosquitoes, the ones that you don't notice until they're done biting and fly off, leaving you exsanguinated and with a bad case of the itchies. I curse these bad little mothers extensively...they don't seem mind any bug repellent I use unless it's super heavy on the DEET. As an entomologist, I know that only female mosquitoes bite and that these are not the Asian tiger mosquito. As an entomologist on indefinite leave, I don't care enough about them to actually identify them to species, but I'd bet a cookie that these are some kind of treehole mosquito. Plus it's awfully difficult to identify an insect that's smashed on your palm. As for the black flies, I have no patience for any insect that either wants to chew on my ears or dive into my eyes and nose like a little black kamikaze pilot.

I've heard anecdotally that many, many people put in a garden this year to offset the rising cost of food in an economy that still seems to be swirling down the drain. Supposedly many of the seed companies had a hard time meeting all the demand for orders. I wonder how all those new gardeners have fared with their gardens. I know my family would starve if my garden was supposed to provide even one quarter of our weekly food supply. I've gotten several zucchini which are much tastier than the ones I buy at the store but not enough to make a meal of, and there are a number of green tomatoes slowly growing on my vines now. I have a thornless blackberry bush that gives me only a couple of berries each day. I can't seem to catch the burgandy okra before the pods have morphed into an inedible mass of fibers with a surprising amount of mucilage. The basil isn't big enough for pesto, the volunteer tomatillos still have very small fruits, and the kale is battling cabbage worms on a daily basis. I do have a pot of carrots that look like they're doing well, but the roots are twisted into mutant corkscrews when I pull them up. (They're still tasty, though.) I just noticed that my Cylindra beets have heaved their roots up out of the soil, but I haven't pulled any yet to see how warped they've grown. Needless to say, we're not going to cut our produce bill significantly this year by supplementing our diet with food from my garden. In fact, I think we would have starved to death back in June, but at least there would have been plenty of flowers to adorn our graves and enough mint for several pitchers of mojitos to toast us on our journey home.

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