I’m not much of a vegetable gardener. I came to it late, preferring to load my garden up with flowers. Well, and tomatoes. You have to grow your own tomatoes. Store tomatoes might as well have come off a three-D printer. But vegetables in general didn’t interest me. If I could have grown an old-fashioned pork roast in acid soil with six hours of sunlight a day, I might’ve given it a go. Only recently have I discovered I like vegetables, and now I like them a lot. So, I’m growing vegetables.

But I didn’t really think you could achieve vegetables just by sticking tiny ones in the ground. I thought that was a rural legend. Even tomatoes are famously dicey around here. Some years they don’t even bother to fruit until a half-hour before winter. Most years they erupt with genuine tomatoes but the bottom halves of them turn into pudding. I have succeeded in raising tiny sculptures in the shape of Brussels sprouts and cauliflowers, but made entirely of insects. Squashes were always enthusiastic and downright rompy but the squirrels chomped into them before I could. I’ve never tried potatoes. Store-bought potatoes are cheap and I didn’t really believe fresh-dug potatoes were going to be any improvement over any other potatoes. Potatoes are fine, but they owe most of their glory to butter and cream and oil and fire.

What I didn’t expect was to have actual success with a crop, and so the next thing to undo me as a gardener was actual success, big success, early success, utterly unearned serendipitous success. I didn’t even that have penciled on the calendar. So sure. I grew vegetables, but did I harvest them? Not necessarily. I remember peering into my first broccoli plants for a few days, and then I was startled to see little tiny broccolis in there. Lordy! A couple days later one of them was the size of a tennis ball. This was promising. A mere few days later I could’ve rolled a strike with them, but I thought they’d hold off for one more day, when I wasn’t so busy. The next day they were in medicine-ball territory. I needed a wagon to wheel them to the kitchen. They bloomed before I got there. Broccoli pollinators banged their little bodies against the window.

Well okay then. Vegetables can be grown.

Did I learn? Let’s see. I have a lovely new cattle-fence arch in the garden which squashes failed to climb properly last year, so this year I went for the slam-dunk: scarlet runner beans. I’d heard they’re good little climbers. I don’t really like beans as much as I like other vegetables. They’re weird and squeaky. But they sure looked good on that arch, with their orange flowers smacking themselves against the blue sky! They hadn’t met across the top of the arch for too many days before it occurred to me: Okay, Broccoli-girl, probably you should check for beans about now.

No beans.

Here may I interject what happened when my sister Margaret, who had a fine vegetable garden in rural Maine, sent me out to check the tomato plants for hornworms while she cooked dinner? I popped out for a look. I wasn’t super confident about what tomato hornworms looked like, but the “worm” concept seemed clear, and I knew where the tomatoes were. I came back in the house. No hornworms, I reported happily.

Margaret squinted out of her kitchen window at the garden, thirty feet away. “They’re right there,” she said, jabbing at numerous points in space with her finger, and then encouraging me outside with a firm grip on my shirt collar.

The hornworms in question were nearly invisible because they were only the size of a roll of quarters and, I’ll add in my favor, exactly the same color as the tomato vines. Even with that new information, it took me a while to spot any others, while Margaret picked hornworms metronomically and flang them to Kingdom Come.

Here may I interject that my main purpose in the world is to amuse others and one shouldn’t expect to get a lot of actual work out of me?

Back to the present. My beans. I looked and looked. There were a few places where it appeared larval beans the size of chin hairs were starting up. I was pretty sure I hadn’t been hornswoggled by my new beans—yet—and was just about to turn away when I finally caught sight of a bean that I’d missed because it was only the size of a canoe.

There were dozens.

Um, just as I expected. I’ve got beans. I’m going to filet them and stuff them with cheese and spinach. The whole fleet.