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Saturday essay: Call of the garden

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Contact Colin McNickle (412-320-7836 or

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Friday, July 11, 2014, 8:57 p.m.

There were no first tomatoes by Independence Day this year. Heck, they weren't even close to being ripe. But they'll come soon enough.

Many of the 'maters — some in the greenhouse, most in the raised beds but a few more on the back deck — are larger than golf balls now. The warm nights have been kind to them; a first harvest is only a few weeks away.

Elsewhere in the garden, much of the real estate reserved for spring lettuce, now largely spent, has been repurposed. Alvaro melons, a first-time crop that began life in the greenhouse, have been transplanted into one bed; greenhouse leeks, late to be thinned, have been transitioned into another.

The first of the green beans, late, were picked this week. But the first hint of blight is cause for grave concern. The first cucumber will be harvested any day now. And a first harvest of peas, also late, is only days away (if, that is, the proprietor can resist standing in the garden and partaking in their raw sweetness). Lima beans, just flowering, will complement late summer dinners.

There will be a few more, but far smaller, cuttings of more heat-tolerant lettuces in the greenhouse for another week; planning for the fall lettuces has begun in earnest. Fall carrots were sown on Monday, the autumn bok choy has just sprouted and ... oh, excuse me ... the garden is calling.

— Colin McNickle

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