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Monday, August 18, 2014

The Garden Tour

I haven't blogged as much about the garden this year, I think that's in part because I found myself really burned out by gardening. Around the time I got the tomatoes transplanted and the peppers in grow bags, I started feeling the endless list of tasks as a burden rather than a joy.

I once heard the difference between children and adults is a child tells you all the things they 'get' to do, an adult frames it in terms of the things they 'have' to do.

Fortunately, Corinna has upped her gardening game (which was already at a pretty high level). Her brain injury after effects (bike crash followed a few months later by a car crash), she has times when her regular work gets overwhelming and the garden is an escape.

But while the chores of the garden haven't been so joyful for me this summer, I haven't burned out on the idea of an edible yard. We eat really well, tons of fresh vegetables, and relatively cheaply. There are expenses related to the garden, and I do know where to get cheap produce in this town, but even factoring in the water bill, ruining a tire on a truck borrowed to haul compost (free load of compost cost over $100 with that tire figured in), the occasional spray of pesticide (I use the pyrethrin stuff—those gray beetles wiping out my cucumbers two years in a row disabused me of the 'organic' fantasy), and so on, I bet we come out ahead long term.

And I think it's beautiful landscaping.

In fact, the other morning I was leaving to take Molly to school and I had to stop and take a picture of the front yard because it's so awesome.

I love, for instance, the way the squash planted along the edge of the driveway spills out into it. It's getting to be a little bit of a hassle, we have to keep training it back into itself because it wants to take over to where we couldn't get in and out of the garage or the rest of the yard, but it looks great.

And even parts of the yard that are out of control are out of control in a cool kind of way.

As an example, the back row of the Tomatosaurus Rex beds, the eight raised beds I built at the end of the driveway, originally intended to be all tomatoes (maxed out that'd be 48 plants), we never have quite gone all tomatoes there. Last year was three fourths tomatoes in that area, 36 plants with two beds given to other crops. This year, I thought I was cutting back on tomatoes. I think I preordered 24 plants, but then between one seed exchange, a couple of impulse add-ons, I put 31 back there. That left five stakes at the back edge by the rose bush.

Against my better judgement, I planted squash in those five spots to climb the tree stakes I drove into the ground last season to support monstrous indeterminate tomato vines. I say against my better judgment because squash are thugs in the garden. We have along that row a spaghetti squash vine which has climbed the fence and taken over a neighboring bed, climbed the rose bush and as with the pumpkin, muskmelon, cantaloupe, and acorn squash I planted along with it, never given up on strangling the tomatoes across the hall.

I say I'm burned out on gardening, but having ripe pie pumpkins in the kitchen waiting to be stuffed is pretty awesome. Between bouts of not wanting to go deal with the plants, I find myself scheming with Corinna for next year's garden. Well, not even 'next year' because there's the fall crops to think about and the stuff that can overwinter. And spinach, which is both a fall crop and an overwinterable one.

And as much as I know the garden is good for me nutritionally, it's also good for me in other ways. The physical activity required, sure, and there's the veggies on the table. But my arachnophobia, previously documented in these pages, well...

The thing about irrational fears, phobias, whatever you want to call it, knowing it's irrational doesn't really help. You just get to feel dumb on top of being afraid. Probably to Matilda's relief (I named the spider Matilda, it makes her less frightening), I'm not about to go handling her to face my fear. I'm not even about to pick the chard she's weaved her web between.

But knowing the spider is there, and being able to check back in on her from day to day, see some of the bugs she's eaten and whatnot, that helps me accept the fact that she's actually an ally in the garden.

Somebody once asked me about this whole edible yard thing, about whether we were 'preppers.' I don't have a TV, so I missed the reference, I learned later, to a TV show abut people who are planning for the End of Days (or something like that).

No, I'm not preparing for the end of days. How am I going to preserve the tomatoes three dozen plants throw off with no electricity? For that matter, what am I going to water in plants with in the absence of municipal water, given that I don't have a well on my property?

But then, I guess, we're better prepared to go a few weeks without gasoline, electricity, and so on, than the average American. Which means we're only a little pathetic on those fronts, as opposed to totally pathetic.

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