Where the Wild Things Grow

I swear, the garden (and the hoop house, too, for that matter) have a strange and wonderful life all their own. Who knows what goes on behind the gate when you’re not there?  Start with bees, birds, butterflies, moths, spiders, beetles, chipmunks, crows, sparrows, slugs, crickets and frogs. Add blossoms, shoots, vines, suckers, spores, weeds, seeds, fruit. Then Water. Wind. Sun. Pollination. Photosynthesis. And all that above ground—you can’t even begin to name the players down below.

Now throw in some man-made stuff. A trellis, a fence, a rope, a pot, a stake, a spade, a cart, a bench. At night, the wild things secretly romance and spar and dance and croon and sidle up and tangle over and generally do what they do. Because you’re not looking.

It’s only in the morning when you shuffle across the dewy grass and open the gate…or in the evening when the light is dying and you finally remember to check on those hoophouse tomatoes…that you see. And even then you must be paying attention or you will miss something great or weird or funny. But you will always find something satisfying, something that’s grown another foot or finally started to bear fruit.

Here are a few surprises from this week on Green Island Farm. (Admittedly, not all of them are nature-made. There are two farmers working on this farm, and very often one is doing something that the other doesn’t even know about it. Until stumbling upon it.)

This is definitely the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a while: A Patty Pan squash plant on steroids, I guess. I have no idea why this happens, but where one or two blossoms are supposed to be, there are literally hundreds–and dozens of fruits already forming. This surfaced beneath the UFO-Saucer sized leaves (right) of one of the hoop-house squash plants.

Also seemingly overnight, the cucumber plants climbed up to the top of the hoophouse, unleashed a shower of little yellow blossoms, and began to spit out little spiny cucumbers.

By sunset, the cucumbers were full-grown. Okay, maybe not sunset of the same day, but it really seemed that way.


Out in the garden, there were strange going-ons everywhere. One day I found Farmer meditating by the bush beans. Or perhaps he was praying, I don’t know. But the next day, I collected our first nice batch of beans. Farmer might have some special communication powers I don’t know about.


Weird balloons, fake birds, fake snakes, and other puzzling man-made objects also began to show up in the garden this week. Then one day, the plastic falcon moved, presumably to protect a ripening Early Girl from a sparrow attack. He knows his job.

The balloons with the eyeballs are just plain creepy (wait until Libby sees these), and I do a double-take every time I see them. They seem to be working though; nothing goes near them. Go figure.

Of course, there are some pretty accidents, too. (Or maybe they’re not accidents.) This year, the daisies, coneflowers, and daylilies made friends, completely unintroduced by us. Who knew they would get along so well?  (About as well as the eggplants and green peppers, which are neighbors, too.)

And finally, there are just some things that happen on the farm that you really can’t explain. If you remember, we brought home two pigs a few months ago. If you look very carefully in this photo of our pigs, there are three heads. I couldn’t get them all to look at the camera at the same time, but trust me, we’re feeding three fast-growing, mud-loving, root-grubbing pigs. Which is why their pen doubled in size. (How that happened, I’ll never know.)



You really have to keep your eyes open around here.


5 thoughts on “Where the Wild Things Grow”

  1. Love this so much…such gorgeoso photos! And funny captions! You know, Susie, you should think about being a writer…ha. And by the way, the over-active squash? You’ve got all of my squash mojo happening in your garden. I have 4 summer squash plants of various type and how many squashes have I produced? Zero. How many last year? Zero. I am the only person in the world who does not have “Too Much Zucchini!” Go figure, indeed.
    Love you!!!

  2. You know, MH, you are my photo inspiration–I keep meaning to tell you that. All those years I complained about the photography thing, I was actually paying attention to what you were doing…still love your eye better than any. Now about those headnotes you’re procrastinating on…! And as for squash, they ain’t as easy to grow as people make them out to be (lots of pesties)…and since I get cleaned out of everything I can put on the farm stand every morning, I would really actually like it if mine would grow faster. But one thing for you–you might have a pollination problem? Bees around? certainly looks like your tomatoes are doing well (and curiously your cherry tomatoes are right on schedule with mine!) but they don’t need the bees as much…love you too

  3. Hi Susie, I second Martha’s suggestion about being a writer. I love your cookbooks and recipes (I’ve been steadily promoting them amongst family and friends), but I really look forward to your columns, even in the winter when the garden is resting. You have a great sense of humor and a way with words.
    There are some great books, both fiction and biography, that intersperse recipes throughout the book, and I like that—-it’s a nice touch. Maybe you could write about life on the Green Island farm, and how it came to be, etc., adding in some delicious recipes here and there, along with gardening tips! Maybe when you have “nothing to do” this winter? Lol

  4. Hi Susie,

    Save some of those squash for us, and tomatoes too. We’ll be in VH next week. Mine in Newport don’t look like they will ripen for a few weeks, although they are large and very green. I won’t send a photo, but loved yours.


Comments are closed.