When You Least Expect It

Our garden is full of surprises these days.  Yesterday I was trimming dead growth from the underside of a lavender bush and discovered an abandoned nest of quail eggs.  It looked like it had been there awhile.  I pondered what must have happened to the parent birds to desert their future offspring.  It wasn’t the first time it happened in our garden.  Last spring a scared quail left seventeen eggs in a corner by our house.  I’m guessing they handle sudden change better than we humans.  The garden is full of sudden change right now and every time I turn around, something is different.

In just a few days’ time, the kale went from being edible to completely infested with aphids.  After nearly seven months of nutritious purple and light green leaves, I uprooted all of the plants and tossed them in the wheelbarrow.  One of the longest seasons of all in our garden, the kale will be sorely missed.  Coming into its own, on the other hand, the garlic is ripe for harvest.  Garlic has taught me patience.  It takes a long time to grow and even when it seems like it should be ready, it’s not until the leaves start turning brown and drying up.  It’s definitely worth the wait.

The least expected activity in the garden right now is our compost pile.  For years we’ve selected one garden bed as our compost.  We dig a hole, toss the scraps in, cover it up and dig a different hole to repeat the process.  Occasionally, we turn the whole mixture and it makes really rich soil.  After a year of this, we rotate the compost to another bed.  This year’s compost continues to give back more than we’ve added to it.  Currently, it’s one of our most prolific beds, hosting some type of mystery squash, peas, chard, zinnias, and the most beautiful tomato plant of this year’s crop.  Even better, it’s a Lemon Boy.

I’ve had a big place in my heart for Lemon Boy tomatoes for years, being the variety that one of my most memorable students raised one year at the Seed.  His Lemon Boy received treatment normally reserved for a favorite pet, and I’ll never forget the morning after a frosty night when we discovered his Lemon Boy hadn’t fared so well.  I wasn’t sure how our friend would respond, and I was prepared for the worst.  Fortunately, he received the news better than I’d anticipated, and I can still picture the two of us burying Lemon Boy in the soil of his little garden, talking about how it would serve as compost for future plants.  Even though his Lemon Boy was composted into other soil, I can’t help but think that perhaps my compost tomatoes are related to his somehow.  If nothing else, they remind me of the interconnectedness of life, the endless pulsation of life’s comings and goings, the surprises, the wonder.