by underswansea


The first attempt at having my own garden was when I was about six or seven. While my father was planting our large family garden, he gave me a few extra seeds. I cleared a small plot on the hillside, surrounded it with rocks and planted the seeds in mostly clay. The first thing I realized, once the seeds were planted, was the hose didn’t reach my garden plot. I hauled water. I watered it as much as a seven year old would. The peas came up, then shrivelled and died, the carrots had two-inch tops with nothing underneath, but the beets grew as fine as they did in my father’s garden.

Since then I’ve been growing beets every year and they’ve never let me down. Detroit Dark Red, the same ones my father and grandfather grew. I’ve tried a few others but I still think they are the best.

When Lisa and I were first married, I planted a small garden outside the old house we were renting. I said, ‘Do you like beets?’

She said, ‘No.’

I said,’Have you tried them?’

Lisa said, ‘Nope, but I know I don’t like them.’

I’m not sure how I got Lisa to finally try them, perhaps I explained to her the only way this marriage thing was going to work was if she listened to me. . . or maybe she was just hungry, regardless, she loved them.

I spent the day in the garden, thinning and weeding. My back was bent thinning two rows of carrots. The pain will pay off in August. Tomorrow I plan to hill the spuds and put up the fences for the peas to climb. Kale leaves could be picked now, but I want them to get bigger for a large batch of kale chips! The lettuce is on the verge of becoming over abundant, and the radishes are growing large and hot. The cool weather plants faired well with the early planting.

The beets were planted extra thick this year for two reasons; it was old seed and I didn’t think they would have a high percentage of germination, and we like eating the thinnings in salads. As it turned out all the seeds germinated. We have been eating plenty of salads with beet greens. Lisa and I both realized we were never going to be able to consume enough salad to properly thin the beets. Tonight we had them steamed. Damn they were good! We are thinking tomorrow will be more of the same.

Unlike when we were a young married couple, now we proudly tell each other when the beets have turned our pee red. That’s a powerful vegetable for you!