Green Thumb-Chapter Eight-Gardening is a Team Sport

Lone Responsibility Albeit Temporarily

My gardening friend went away for three weeks.  I was on my own in the garden and found my relationship with the patch of dirt changed.  It was similar to the way a home feels different when those who usually live there with you are absent.  It’s just not the same.  I know now that for me gardening is a team sport.

I made my treks out to the garden.  There was weeding, watering and some produce to harvested.  I didn’t feel drawn there in the same way as when my partner in gardening was there.  But then I thought about the responsibility and how things would look if I didn’t put in some time in care and tending.  The weeds have never given up, never abated at any time in the season.  The place would look terrible upon her return and that would never do after the sweat equity we’ve put into the patch of clay.

August Trials and Tribulations

Our friends are very kind.  They ask ‘how is the garden’.  They seem truly interested when they ask.  Often, though, after a description of the ups and downs and the time spent, they talk about the ease and relatively low-cost of shopping at the local outdoor markets.  Yes, yes I think they have a point.  But we’ve had such a good time-watching the garden grow, replanting/coaxing those things that didn’t grow, and relishing the consumption of vegetables from our own garden.  Not exactly a bounty but we have served our vegetables at a few family dinners.

  • The Disappearing Squash Family: we have grown a number of members of the squash plant family such as pumpkin, butternut squash, zucchini and patty-pan squash.  Some of the plants grew well initially, some were outright attacked by some insects that kept eating at them and hindering their development.  Through covering them up and pampering them we got them going and things looked good-until about three weeks ago. (about the time my friend left).   The leaves started turning milky/white and then they would die off…wither away.  We think it is white powdery mildew.  Help!!  The squash family is disappearing before our eyes.  We have one pumpkin-it seems to have no mother plant any longer.  We have had three zucchini-three!  Aren’t those the things that people grow in great abundance?  The patty pan squash was our pride and joy-then half of one plant fell over-maybe it was too heavy and along came powdery mildew and the plant began to dissolve before my eyes.
  • Potato Bug Life Cycle: I figure that the multitude of potato bugs in our garden missed the lecture on life cycle.  That would be the lecture that tells them that after week upon week of trying to eat all the leaves off the plants and having hundreds of their kin squashed by the resident gardeners they should just give up and move to the next portion of their life cycle.  That would be the portion where they lie dormant in the soil for 100 years.
  • The Promise of Yield:  It occurred to me during one of my weeding sessions that perhaps after all the bug murder Mother Nature might have a trick up her sleeve.  What if, after all the care of the potato plants, there were no potatoes!  It’s possible.  Our soil is mostly clay, it is hard to hill, weeds are very difficult to pull…and maybe the bug assault has been just too much for them.  I started scratching around to find potatoes…thought I found one or two and they turned out to be a smooth clump of dirt down inside more dirt.  Don’t tell me!  I quit looking for a while.
  • Last week I thought, that’s it.  Before I spend more weeks of bug squashing, watering and weeding, possibly to no avail, I got out the garden fork.  And there they were-there is something about digging vegetables out of the garden, smelling the fresh dirt and paying some attention to just what it takes to produce food.  While digging around I turned up our one resident earth worm again.  

More Fun Than Vegetables

A dear friend who reads this blog said it looks like our garden is more fun than vegetables.  What do you think?  My spouse and I were in a grocery store yesterday and there was a special on vegetables grown locally.  For five dollars, you can purchase four 5 lb. bags of an assortment of vegetables-20lbs in total.  The assortment included carrots, beets, onion and turnips.  

And yet, I am quite sure we will do this again next year.  We have plans to improve the soil and try different crops and use raised beds and maybe we’ll get to sit a bit more and weed a bit less.  We have yet to see the end of this season.

I am very happy to have my partner in gardening back in town. Game on!


            

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