GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Lifestyle

August 23, 2013

Gad, zukes! Fighting to enjoy fruits of labor

We expanded out vegetable garden this year. Now that we’re all grown up, we know our favorite veggies, and of those, we know which grow best for us.

So we decided on peas, broccoli, tomatoes — both “cherry” and the big guys, zucchini and summer squash, green beans, and Swiss chard. We also planted a variety of herbs in individual pots that could come inside when the weather got cold.

We were disappointed when the peas didn’t show, but conceded that peas can prove tricky. You must plant them early enough in spring so they will yield before the hot weather arrives, but not so early that they might freeze, and it had been a cold, rainy spring. We filled their empty bed with green bean seeds.

Every evening after the rest of the planting, we sat on the upstairs deck in anticipation of watching our garden grow. The first couple weeks we spent pulling up dense, robust weeds so the tiny vegetables wouldn’t have to fight so hard to claim their space. The weeds were endlessly assertive.

One morning, my husband chimed the happy news that the beans were up, and then, before you could say “Jack Rabbit,” the plants were 5 inches tall, tender leaves unfolded, followed by tiny pinkish-white flowers, each bearing promise of a string bean. We could almost taste them, steamed with a dot of butter and a sprinkle of salt.

But not long after, my husband stomped into the kitchen, announcing with horror that the beans were gone. “Gone?” I asked incredulously, “What do you mean, gone?” I dutifully joined him in accessing row after row of green skeletons, every leaf and flower stripped naked, leaving only skimpy, naked stems. A smug, handsome mother rabbit leapt out from the tall grass and dashed away, followed by several fluffy brown and white baby bunnies.

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