October 14, 2016
“It’s over. I’m finally breaking up with you summer garden 2016. This is it! I mean it this time …”
This was the Facebook post from my friend Kerry. She included pictures of cardboard boxes filled with enough tomatoes to make bruschetta for an extended Italian family. Her last harvest included more eggplant than you could safely leave on your neighbor’s doorstep.
My own garden faded fast and is gone without a prolonged goodbye.
First the squash plants fell victim to colonies of invading aphids. I remembered to spray with soapy water until I forgot to spray with soapy water. Next, the big, floppy leaves started to droop and turned yellow.
We could have kept going on the tomato plants. Yet, my experience is you get more green fruit, which freezes before your summer tan fades.
My Handsome Woodsman keeps the vegetables watered and I’m in charge of the flowers in the patio with the lounge chairs.
One day he announced that he was ready to yank his plants. The next word I heard was that the deed had been done.
One last word
Before I move on to a softer subject, let me linger on this eggplant situation.
The short version is that I don’t like eggplant, my boyfriend doesn’t really eat eggplant, and yet we grow it every year.
Even now, after he harvested the remaining eggplant, the fruit covered most of the surface of the green resin lawn chair.
I’m not certain, yet I wager if I say nothing, the eggplant will remain on that chair through the Chinese new year.
Other food uses
While brainstorming ways to make fun of this eggplant situation, I searched for craft ideas that involve produce.
I happen to have a box of thumbtacks with googly eyes at the ends (thanks to my sister). I picked a few perfectly purple eggplants, mindful to keep the stem intact.
This stem would become the bird’s beak. Next, just a few cuts with a knife, placement of the googly eyes and I crafted a penguin from this long-hanging fruit.
Next, I placed the eggplant penguins in a decorative bowl and perched the bowl on my boyfriend’s laptop computer.
He got the point and he made eggplant that night.
I must say, it wasn’t bad when mixed with onions, garlic, squash and a rich portion of teriyaki sauce. However, I would have enjoyed that meal just as much if the eggplant had been absent.
One day, when I had too much time on my hands, I sliced some eggplant thin and fried for a few minutes. These strips were used like lasagna noodles for an all-veggie lasagne. This was not bad. However, if I want eggplant two nights next year, we can buy a few at the farmers market and grow something else.
Also, if I want to pretend like vegetables are pasta, I prefer spaghetti squash.
We’ll see what my guy ends up doing with the dozen eggplants that remain. Some are a greenish yellow, as if the plant had given up, and simply did not waste the energy on becoming purple.
Cold weather plans
The good news, of course, is that we can just shake off the summer, grab our sweaters and move into the next season. The trustworthy UC Davis Plant Sciences planting guide, http://tinyurl.com/hh22o7m, gives the green light for planting lettuce, spinach, peas and fava beans by seed.
I’m also busy at my house tucking poppy seeds into the cracks in the pavement.