In early spring, when planting a garden, it's impossible to remember how big tomato plants get and how many cucumbers one vine produces. It's inevitable, then, that I over plant each time.
Why do cucumber seeds come in such large numbers anyway? The only reason I can think of, is that the people who package the seeds expect us to lose at least three quarters of the produce hidden under leaves until they are just too big to do anything with except to look at them in wonder.
This year I planted some little pickling varieties so I could pick them at a reasonable three inch length to make into dills. But if I don't get out there to pick them twice a day, and if I don't find them in their hiding places under the wide leaves in time, they just become shorter, fatter, too-big-to-use, gold-green monstrosities. I swear today a vine grabbed me as I was passing by and pointed at some of the little devils that were hiding from me.
Zucchini will hide from a gardener, too. But even a very large zucchini can be used for something. I've stuffed and baked a couple this year with a sausage, Parmesan, onion, bread crumb stuffing. That was quite yum. And I plan to grate a hider tomorrow and make some zucchini bread. Once when I was very young, a zucchini got away from my dad until it was the size of a newborn. I drew a face on it and wrapped it in a blanket. But an overgrown cucumber would make one very ugly baby doll. You just have to find them in time, that's all.
Even with the hiding vegetables, I always bring in more vegetables than seems possible, from vines that move around the garden like homesteaders. And I've got lots and lots of volunteer cucumbers as well as squash and melons that appeared where ever I used my home made compost.
And tomato plants! When I buy them they are just tiny little things in four inch pots. And those tomato cages? Give me a break! They are made to fit the tomato plants in my planting-time imagination, not the Godzilla-sized dark green trees that are crowded together making a jungle of my garden now. Those plants ate my little tomato cages about a month ago.
Tomatoes don't have the color camouflage thing going for them, so the plants have developed their own protection. Picking tomatoes in my garden requires courage. I have to brave the mosquitoes and Grimm knows what else that might be lurking in the deep, dark recesses of the tomato patch. But if ever there was a worthy adventure it's doing just that. I could probably live on ripe tomatoes still warm from the vine.
For some reason, I think pepper plants should be planted near tomatoes, so finding peppers is a trick, too. But let me say this. If I had to walk through snake-filled pits and jump shark filled water to pick fresh veggies, I would do it.
Yesterday I made 21 half pints and ten pints of a variety of pickles and canned 5 pints of green beans and a quart of tomatoes. Today I made a big bowl of gazpacho. And of course I eat fresh tomatoes and cucumbers at every turn.
Having too many fresh vegetables is like having too many friends, or too much beauty, or too much smarts. I'm learning to live with it. Is life good, or what?