I thought I would write something about my garden this time around because my mother-in-law, Pamela, was a gardener and I have tried to emulate her green thumb. Some years I have things that succeed, and some years I just host a bunch of insects and slug-like creatures as though I was catering a garden party for invertebrates.

This year, the strawberries I planted last year came back with a vengeance. For weeks I had big, beautiful berries and then about two weeks ago I couldn’t pick a berry that hadn’t been half-eaten by snails or doodlebugs. There are methods of dealing with these pests, but I decided instead to pull the strawberries and get my various pepper plants going in that bed.

I also had a good run with peas this year. It was a rough start, because I put the peas in the ground a couple of weeks before the freeze we had around Valentine’s Day. I figured that it gets so hot here by May, it’d be better to get them an early start. Most of them survived the freeze, and in a few weeks, I was picking fat pods full of sweet peas. I’d guess I got three quarts from them until about two weeks ago and now I’ve had to pull them, too.

My basil is coming up, and I still have mustard greens going strong. I planted cucumbers in a pot and I thought in the ground where we previously had a flowering pear tree, but apparently what I thought was a cucumber growing there is a pumpkin that we owe to our jack-o lantern from last Halloween. Whatever it is it’s growing several feet per day, it seems, and I’ve had to cut it back and fence it in as best I can so that it doesn’t take over the entire garden. Last year I got two pumpkins out of a similar situation, so I have high hopes.

The cucumbers in the pot are not doing well, though I did get to pull one off that I diced really finely to eat with hot dogs because the Chicago hot dog is the best hot dog.

My indomitable tarragon is still indomitable. This time of year, if I don’t water it every day it shrivels, but it comes back admirably and to be honest it looks like I know what I’m doing. It’s like a sculpture, it is.

I have not planted okra yet, but I did drop a bunch of dried pods around the location where I grew them last year and I will be surprised if they don’t start coming up soon. I would also not be surprised to see some of the peppers I had in the same area coming back, though it would be a lot better if I had the time to actually pull more of the weeds that may be crowding new growth. I’m putting that on my schedule.

I also have tomatoes coming up in various places, including places in which I planted them. Years ago, my friend Jose gave me a half dozen little tiny tomatoes that he said he’d brought back from Costa Rica. These plants grow like crazy and they produce a lot of these little pea-sized tomatoes that taste really good. The “meat” to skin/seed ratio is not great, though. So sometimes I pull them off the plant pop them into my mouth and spit out the seeds.

The Roma tomato seeds I planted appeared to be coming up a few weeks ago in the very place I planted them. As they have flowered and are setting fruit, however, they appear to be the same tiny, Costa Rican tomatoes that are popping up in various places around my yard.

There are beans coming up along my fence-line and I’m going to be planting more as soon as I can shore up the posts that I use to let them climb. They were so prolific last year that the weight of them caused some structural issues. I just hope I get as good a result this year.

There is a plant that Pamela gave me that I think is some variety of Angel’s Trumpet that I thought we’d lost in the freeze. I cut it back and it’s regrown recently. It’s very popular with the local caterpillar population but despite having a lot of damage to most of the leaves it’s just started to put out beautiful yellow flowers that hang like delicate bells. She told me when she gave it to me that it would get “really huge,” and I planted it in a place I shouldn’t have, but it’s come back and I’m glad to see those flowers now.

I hope that if you garden, you’re also enjoying the experience. If you need tarragon, let me know. I can hook you up.