After a week of delaying, I finally found my way to the vegetable garden which borders our back fence. Unstaked beefsteak tomato plants sprawled lazily, their fruit rotting against the earth as soon as it ripened. The grape tomatoes weathered their neglect much better, and the harvest was plenty. The beets are almost ready, as are the carrots, while the basil flowered weeks ago and has begun to seed. Greens and cucumbers are in the past, memories of our taste buds as August comes to a close
As I cleaned up the rotten tomatoes, a red potato peeked at me from the ground. I haven’t planted potatoes for at least two years, so these guys are a delightful surprise this summer. A few weeks back, I stumbled upon a lone cantaloupe, another volunteer thanks to a compost pile that doesn’t heat up enough to kill seeds. These finds make the weeds from the same compost pile entirely worth it. These are gifts from the earth, reminders of summers gone by. Numerous volunteer tomato plants grace the edges of the compost pile behind our garage, giving gifts freely without care from anyone.
From rich soil came surprises. Some of what I planted with purpose and planning made took root and flourished, but the some of the best came from sheer neglect. As another homeschooling “school year” begins in two days, I feel the panic to finish preparing, to find the materials that will cause the best fruit to grow in my children. I’m knee deep in lesson planning sheets (largely blank) and curriculum and rather certain that it won’t all come together by Tuesday. Fortunately, the soil around here is rich, and the boys continue to grow and learn, plans completed or not. They have quite a bit in common with our surprise potatoes.