It's tomato time here in the mid-Atlantic – the critical moment when those of us eager to pull fat, bright fruit off our own backyard vines in a couple months are scurrying to get tender little plants in the ground.
But as anyone who's spent a few summers of kneeling in the dirt can tell you, healthy-looking vines will not necessarily get you a mind-blowingly delicious tomato. And why?
One of the first things Michelle Obama did as first lady was to dig up part of the beautifully manicured South Lawn of the White House and plant a vegetable garden. The garden was just one of Obama's many efforts to encourage Americans to eat nutritious food and live healthier lives. Her latest project, a book called American Grown, is a diary of that garden through the seasons and a portrait of gardening in America, past and present.
Late spring in a New England vegetable garden is usually a time for the last asparagus, the crisp lettuce and arugula, the first pea shoots, and the first sprouting of warm-weather crops like peppers and zucchini. What you don't expect to see planted in your beds are snapping turtles. But that's just what turned up in mine twice this week.