Perspective in the Garden

Tomatoes planted with marigolds.
My niece, Caroline, takes over picking veggies and fruits during her visit.

By Renee Adam

Rain, intense heat, humidity, thunderstorms, etc….we’ve had it all this summer in Birmingham. I’m not complaining about the rain…I’d much rather have a lot of rain than have drought conditions like many places around the country are experiencing this summer. But, it pains me to admit that my summer garden hasn’t done so well this year. I really see that when I look at photos from last year’s summer garden and look over notes from my garden journal.

I can’t put my finger on any one particular thing that has or hasn’t happened that would have made our garden produce like it has in the past years. I really think it’s a combination of several things that just “happen” in nature, and I plan on taking that into account next year.

But sometimes, perspective makes the difference of how I should define success. Here’s an example…

Eggplant is a main ingredient in Greek Keftethes.
Caroline picks a Japanese eggplant to include in our dinner (Greek Keftethes).

My nieces are visiting from North Carolina for a couple of weeks. My niece, Caroline, really enjoys helping with our chickens, dogs, and family garden. She has a passion for summer cucumbers and eats a bowl full at every evening meal.

I’ve let Caroline take responsibility of watching over the garden and picking ripe fruits/veggies while she’s here, and she’s done a great job as my garden helper. In fact, even though I go down to our garden several times a day, I really didn’t even notice the tomatoes “stacking up” in the window where I keep them to sweeten till we eat them. The difference is having her picking two or three fruits/veggies (mostly tomatoes) every day. I really didn’t think we were getting many tomatoes until yesterday morning when I walked down the stairs and there, in the window, was a sea of shiny red tomatoes….from our garden. Not so bad after all!!

Tomatoes will ripen in a windowsill.
Roma and Rutgers tomatoes stack up in the window…soaking up the sun until we devour them!

Perspective…made me smile to look at the tomato stack (and smile even more to eat them in a cucumber and mozzarella salad). But really, what makes me most happy is the smile on my niece’s face when she’s in the garden with me picking something from one of our vines. She’s taken responsibility while she’s here with us for taking care of our hens and collecting eggs and making daily trips to look over our veggie beds. I love these photos of her!

So, while the summer garden may not have lived up to its potential when compared with summer harvests in the past, it has done something for me that is priceless….brought a smile to my niece’s face and hopefully, in time, inspired her to be be a future gardener!