If I’m remembering right, it seems that my Dad always managed to have a ripe tomato around Father’s Day, in this same hardiness zone that I am gardening in. Whether that memory is right or wrong, that’s the date by which I measure how late my tomatoes are each year.
It appears that this year, my tomatoes will once again be very, very late since the plants are just now starting to bloom. Even the tomato plant I bought with blooms on it will not provide a ripe tomato for awhile. I’m going to blame the cooler weather and all the rain. At least it was cooler weather until yesterday when it reached 90 F for the first time this summer. Usually we don’t see days above 90 until July.
If I’m remembering right, my Dad’s geraniums (Pelargonium) were always very big and very red. Every year, he planted a row of them in a long planter box on the edge of our front porch. His secret for growing such big geraniums? He bought the biggest and best that he could find, at least I think that was the secret. He once said the reason the neighbor down the street couldn’t get hers to grow as big as his was because “she bought the smallest, cheapest plants that she could”.
I don’t plant a long planter box full of bright red geraniums at my house, but every spring I buy one or two of the biggest and best geraniums I can find in a color I think my Dad would have liked, and include those in a few of my container plantings.
This year I planted a dark red, almost maroon colored geranium that I feel certain he would have approved of (even though the camera balks at the color).
If I’m remembering right, my Dad believed that you needed a very large garden to make it worthwhile to grow sweet corn, and since he had just a good-sized garden by his measure, he didn’t try to grow any. He did tell a funny story about one of his friends who grew up in the city and never learned how to grow vegetables, but decided he would have a garden one summer, “have a garden” meaning grow some vegetables. My Dad laughed because his friend only planted four corn plants, thinking they would produce ears and ears of corn, like tomato plants produce dozens of tomatoes.
For years, I didn’t grow sweet corn either, because I thought I didn’t have enough space, at least according to my Dad. But then I decided to try growing corn in one of my raised beds.
Lo and behold, it was a big enough patch to give me a few ears of corn, so I’ve continued to grow sweet corn ever since then.
If I’m remembering right, my Dad had very few gardening tools, though he had a good-sized garden. A spade, a rake, and just one a hoe, a pair of pruners and a trowel, plus the electric hedge trimmers that he used to trim all the yews planted around the foundation of our house. I thought I had “arrived” as a gardener when he handed me the trimmers one summer right after Father's Day and let me trim up all the shrubs. Turns out, trimming all those yews was a big job, and he probably was just happy to have some help doing it.
Though I think I've "arrived" as a gardener, I no longer think that gardening involves using electric hedge trimmers, and I have just a few more, well, a lot more, gardening tools than my Dad had. But I’d like to think he would find humor in one of his daughters having a collection of hoes.
I remember and imagine because my Dad passed away some 22 years ago. He is still missed and remembered, especially in the garden, when tomatoes ripen, geraniums flower, and the corn is ready to be picked. So to honor my Dad on Father’s Day I'll spend the day gardening and remembering.
And if I’m remembering right, that’s just how he would have liked to spend the day, too.