What’s in a garden? Seeds, plants, a lot of memories, some that are kind of harrowing, and in the city, some lead in the soil. I started with a dream. A dream of 8 kinds of plants and high hopes. I’ve learned a lot this growing season, including when September rolls around you hedge your bets and go buy some fall plants, so you can pay anything to keep rolling the dice one more time just like Steve Perry sang to me in 1981. Thanks lettuce and swiss chard, I’m not gonna stop believin’.
I started with a bean plant, 2 zucchini, 2 tomato plants, 1 pepper plant, oregano, sweet potatoes, and a kale plant that survived the winter outside and sprouted again in the spring. What did I wind up with?
The beans bit the dust pretty much right out of the gate with the marauding rodents (my current favorite thing to say in 2021), the zucchini and pepper took heavy damage. The tomatoes were literal late bloomers.
The zucchini decided to take after humans and produce exactly 2.4 offspring. Each plant gave me 1 full zucchini and one gave me an additional .4. It let it get big enough to tease me and then let it shrivel up while I was on vacation. But what I like about this is that when people complain about how they have so many zucchini they didn’t know what to do with it (because they always do and I say, then why are you growing it?), I can say with confidence, “You don’t know how to control your zucchini, like I can.” One plant expired after producing its single zucchini. The other looked like a goner, but kept hanging on. I left it alone to see what would happen. Turns out, not much. But I give it credit for keeping on, keeping on. Reminds me of me during COVID.
OK, I know it’s fun to recount all of the gardening disasters, near misses, and opportunities to declare my victimhood against mother nature. BUT. The plants that did survive did pretty well.
The pepper plant gets the Olympic gold medal. After being half eaten by rodents and then attacked by leaf rot, it rallied to become the champion of the yard, maybe even the street. It’s branches are weighed down by peppers, which I’ve enjoyed eating, and I have more to eat. I’m going to try to overwinter it in the house. I did this successfully 2 years ago, managing to keep the thing alive all winter only to drop it and knock off the stem in the spring. Wish the Olympian luck.
The tomato plants started out slow and then shot up with all the rain in July. I had to rig up a whole string support system tethering them to fence so they wouldn’t fall over. There are a LOT of green tomatoes, which is better than only getting a few red ones. If they don’t get red before the frost, I’ll pick them all and put them in a paper bag to ripen. Tomatoes through October, possibly November, so ha on you, mother nature.
The oregano is a like a hippy going to Woodstock. I didn’t know I was supposed to trim it to make it get bushy, so it’s all leggy and exuberant, spreading free love over the edge of the pot. I love it. I’m going to try to root it to keep it over the winter too. It and the pepper plant can sit around my one sunny window telling war stories from the summer of 2021. Either that or share their anxiety about me dropping them.
The garden sweet potatoes get an award for “Least Amount of Drama.” They stretched out their vines, didn’t get eaten by rodents or bugs, didn’t die. They were all around steady Freddies. It remains to be seen if they will give me any potatoes, although I see their leaves are turning yellow, which is the sign to start the harvest. I’ll report back when I dig up them up along with the guerrilla sweet potatoes.
To quote Walter Cronkite (go Google him), “And that’s the way it is.” Oh, it’s hard to let go. Don’t let the stereotype of the quiet, nature loving gardener fool you. These people are tenacious, competitive and are always plotting their next move. It turns out, I kinda like it.