It’s about time I let you in on what all the fuss is about. It’s just this garden thing. See, it takes over your life.
First, you plant a few seeds. And then you get a few seedlings. We ONLY planted six tomato plants. Only six. And then… well, they kept growing. And growing. And it was repellently hot this summer, but apparently nobody told plants that they don’t just lurve global warming. So they got bigger. And bigger. The drip system even broke, once. And still they grew. (Thanks, Watersorb!) Please note the height of the tomato plants vs. the height of the luckless farmerette to the right of the photograph. It was JUST. SIX. PLANTS. Really. Six little ones, even.
And then, the Auld Scot decides he wants to plant peppers. Peppers. And then to pull them up. To overwinter. In the house. Where it’s cozy, what with the books and the knitting and the canisters of random grain. (Bad joke from EarthMother, by the way: “If the man doesn’t know his rye from his oats, how does he know which ones to sow?!” Hnur, hnur, Mom. And people wonder why I’m so weird.) All I know is, if ONE teensy tiny aphid gets on my Saintpaulia, there’s going to be a dismemberment. The peppers of death are no match for me and my hacksaw. Although I really will be the first to admit that the purple ones are quite pretty. I can imagine them on the front walk, or perhaps lending their glory to the back deck. We’re going to have to discuss this overwintering thing. Ahem!
I cheerfully borrow this site to whinge about all of the gardening chores and the dirt and the occasional worm, and the ever-present weeds amongst the seeds, but I really like gardening because it makes me feel victorious and accomplished at something. (Especially when I’m waiting, a year later, to hear a proper word from an editor. A year. We’re coming up on November here, do you think she’s noticed!?) When nothing else in the whole world is going along properly, pulling up a dandelion by its taproot can give you quite a little glow. And, I am easily amused by planting random seeds given to me or filched from plants going to seed that I see on walks, to see what comes up. This year the biggest kick I’ve gotten has come from what I thought were left over sweet potato vines. I carefully watered and endured one popping up in the middle of my green onions, thinking that one had gotten sliced in the tiller and had relocated and somehow miraculously survived. And since I love yams, and we worked so hard on those evil things last season, I coddled it along. And then I realized… not a yam, despite those similarly lovely heart-shaped leaves. No, these some other opportunistic bastards, my old friends from last summer, the morning glories. They were gorgeous despite themselves, as they pulled over and dismantled my trellises. I suffer them proudly. They, along with my gone-to-seed cosmos, dill and cilantro have brought on the butterflies. We have had fewer whiteflies, etc. this year, and the lady bugs are eating well.
Probably the biggest, scariest occurrence in the garden this season are the gourds. When the little seeds I put in the ground finally sprouted, I was so proud. When their little vines were overshadowed by the big, mean zucchini, I worried. They had beautiful white flowers, and strong vines… and somewhere between the first week and the second month of the heat spell, they have managed to take over the entire yard. It’s ridiculous — You can’t step anywhere, because there’s a gourd you’re about to trip over. They grew out of their bed, over two beds to the north and four beds to the east. They trellised up the tomato supports, and made themselves right at home. There are at least sixty of them, I’m serious. And they’re the size of your head. And their vines have a NOXIOUS stink, so as to punish you if you make so bold as to slash the little suckers down and away from your melons, of which we’ve had now, oh, two, thanks to the gourds’ plans for world domination. I have plans for these little suckers, though. Gourd art, to make up for having to endure them all over my space. I figure our little condo hasn’t decided we’re quite weird enough. Being one of the few without the requisite kettle grill on the deck (but the slow cooker really does do well out there) and with a cage full of finches hung to air, we will now embroider our complete bizarre-ness by also hanging up randomly decorated birdhouses.
Oh well. Least we don’t have cats… (I mean, ’cause then we’d be really weird.)
And there you have it: our little borrowed piece of paradise. We took a weedy vacant lot behind the home of land-rich but creativity-and-general-natural-impulse -poor friends, and we grow tomatoes, beans, zucchini, yellow squash, green onions, shallots, cucumbers, beets, peppers, basil, dill, melons, edamame and more I’m forgetting. We eat them… they still buy their tomatoes from Costco. They smile at us, politely, as we offer them our broad-shouldered carrots and then leave them on the counter… to wither. Someday, maybe we’ll afford our own little plot of land outside of our own little piece of house. Someday, we’re going to get to that autumn garden, and plant kale, beets maybe, or lettuce. Or more onions. Someday, someday. We get worms and weird beetles in the tomatoes; we get strangely dormant collard greens that defy all explanation, but every year we try something new, and ever year we struggle, and every year we prevail. Sometimes the feeling that we prevailed only comes because it’s finally over, be we did it – we wrestled the land and won. Sorta. Yeah, anybody can go to Farmer’s Market, but we still struggle to grow our own, and people wonder why. Honestly? I don’t know why we trek a half hour across a bridge and several towns to get dirty, sweaty and sore and to bring back pounds more work to slice, season and dehydrate or stew or can. I really don’t know why. But it’s become a little addictive.