At the beginning of the summer, my father-in-law came to the conclusion (from my lily-white skin and distinct lack of freckles) that I ought to be spending more time in the great outdoors. He came up with the cunning plan to woo me into the back yard with my very own garden: a place I could grow all the vegetables I could possibly eat with my own, still-fair-even-now-because-I-stick-obsessively-to-the-shade hands.
At first, it went swimmingly. We tilled the land in preparation, built a fence to keep the beady eyes of the deer at bay and planted carrots, beets and cabbages in neat rows. Once a day, I would potter out to inspect the budding plants and gently water them with a bucket, nurturing their tiny little leaves and dreaming of plates piled high with salad.
As they grew, this evolved into Playtime With Hoses, during which idyllic quarter of an hour of each afternoon, I would drench my bean rows until the whole thing resembled a paddy field. Which action I defend by pointing out that it was over 100 degrees outside and we had no rain for a month.
I rejoiced when I picked my first crops, dutifully snapping the ends from my beans before washing, blanching and freezing them, collecting an ever-increasing stash of vegetable goodness to see us through the winter.
I presented both the husband and the parentals-in-law with piles of lettuce at dinner time, overloading everyone’s plates with salad that looked an awful lot more edible than the pathetic excuse for a spring mix that Safeway has been selling over the summer.
I marvelled at how attractive the fruits of my labours were, as well as tasty. Until the first radish crop came in, that is…
The bunch above might look worthy of the front page of a gardening magazine, but I would in no way recommend taking a bite. Somehow, I achieved growing radishes that were both utterly tasteless and so fiery that my jaw almost literally dropped off.
When the above monstrosity of a radish unearthed itself (pictured in my husband’s man-hand for full appreciation), I began to wonder if my garden was preparing to fight back, and/or take over the world. Possibly by squashing everything else in it.
It got worse. Above is a two-foot green bean that somehow managed to evade my notice and begin creeping ominously towards the back door. I cannot speculate as to what it planned to do once it got there, only that Mutant Bean had nefarious intentions. By way of fair warning, this is probably how the apocalypse is going to begin: in my vegetable garden, through the medium of disgruntled shrubbery. My squash plants are almost certainly Triffids in disguise.
I am writing this post by way of an apology, before the inevitable happens and my harvest turns on us all. I’m sorry for inflicting the Mutant Vegetable Army on the world, and for whatever consequences my selfish action has. I couldn’t help it, I had no choice: my tomatoes are about to ripen and grilled summer squash tastes really, really good.