As we were getting ready to leave for our two-week trip to Virginia, I had to make sure the garden was ready to be taken care of by someone other than myself. I mulched. I sprayed the watered down milk on the squash leaves to slow down the powdery mildew. I heavily harvested the basil. I printed out detailed instructions. I gave away what we couldn’t eat. I packed six ripe tomatoes and two cucumbers into our carry on luggage. Who could part with the summer’s first ripe tomatoes?
As I spent these final moments in the garden, I gazed at the nearly ripe cantaloupes, the first of the eggplants elongating, the reddening bell peppers, and the tomato plants heavy with fruit just beginning to turn red, and I thought, we have to remember to plan our trip earlier in the summer next year. It is hard to leave in the hands of another, the garden you have carefully tended to, especially at the moment it starts to produce so much produce you have the delightful problem of figuring out what to do with all of it.
And so, we left and came back two weeks later….
Yesterday afternoon, I took with me to the park nine tomato seedlings that I did not have room for in my garden and came home with a pile of Swiss chard, avocados, a zucchini, mint, mixed salad greens, a sage plant, loquats, a sweet potato start, and enough basil to make a batch of pesto. Yesterday, members of RIPE Altadena (Residential In-season Produce Exchange of Altadena) met in the park to swap their garden excesses. People went home with a week’s worth of produce, additions to their gardens, and, most likely, a whole lot more than that.