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27th November 2016571Views9Comments
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A fine mess

I’ve been away on vacation for most of the last few weeks, and as is typically true in August, have returned to ridiculous explosions of food, weeds, and crabgrass.

You’ll notice that one of the explosions, at least, is positive: food.  So many tomatoes that sauce-making is the only option. Endless eggplants and pattypan squashes. Tomatillos littering the walkway. Pole beans hanging by the hundreds from their vines like prisms off a big tacky chandelier.

I love the basic self-sufficiency of my summer vegetable garden.  Unlike the lawn and the perennial beds, which currently look like hell, the vegetable garden is an attractive riot.  Because I mulched heavily with leaves last fall, there aren’t a lot of weeds.  Thanks to that mulch, which conserves soil moisture, I can trust the skies to do the watering for me when I’m away.  Admittedly, however, I live in the Northeast, where a week with no rain is unusual.

My personal vegetable garden is not the only one I’ve neglected, either.  Also receiving no care from me since late July at least are the Lake Avenue Elementary school garden and a community garden plot I took so I could grow more potatoes. But all is nonetheless well.

Vegetable gardens are really a great deal: Work hard to assemble the pieces in May–paths, mulch, crops–and then bestir oneself for the rest of the summer only to harvest  a windfall and scatter seed for the fall.  Why doesn’t everybody do this?

Posted by

Michele Owens
on August 17, 2012 at 2:35 pm, in the category Eat This, Feed Me.


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  1. It’s really not that easy everywhere. This summer was a “water me daily or watch me disappear” one for sure here, and most summers have periods like that. Poor harvests right now, but I’m hoping late spurts will make up for it.

  2. The vegetable garden is the one place where chaos is not allowed in the wild cultivated gardens. Admittedly with a thick layer of wood chip mulch the need for weeding is close to non-existent. Damn vetch got in my strawberry patch though and that is a pain.

  3. Alas, most of my small garden went to feed the woodchuck, the bunnies, the chipmunks, the slugs… The tomatoes have survived, thanks to me winning the war with the horrid green hornworms. The herbs are holding their own, too. Wait’ll next year, I guess. For now, there is a lot of insalata caprese at my house (tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad.) Not complaining.

  4. If I didn’t attend to the garden on a daily basis, I would have lost even more produce to hornworms, bean beetles, squash borer, voles, blights, molds and assorted other maladies, not to mention needing to water during the dry spells and pick quickly ripening tomatoes, squash, and okra. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t leave town in the summer for very long

  5. Banes this year: White flies (tomato plants,) bunnies (parsley and pepper plants.) Watering was necessary every three days. But there are tomatoes, peppers, parsley, and other herbs. The petunias love it (if watered) but I have a rather strange phenomenon of a large batch of pole beans, Romano. Normally I would be absolutely swamped in gallons of beans. And yet the bean plants are enormous and Not One Bean. I have some flowers now, so maybe soon, but it’s a curious summer….

  6. karenj – Mom always told me that beans won’t flower or set if the temps are over about 95. Experience has shown it to be true. Which really stinks since we spend most of the summer at or above that threshold.

  7. We’ve had a horribly dry and record hot summer in Colorado. Usually we get moisture in July–not this year. Without life support (water from the hose) there would be no gardens at all. That said, with life support and mulch it’s doing nicely; the tomatoes are ripening; I am happy. All the dahlia starts (20- 19 survived) I planted as my “50 Mile Bouquet” experiment (local, organically grown cut flowers) are going into a blossom boom! I planted a bed of zinnias in the community vegetable garden (Scarlet and Canary) as well and it’s a Yellow Swallowtail and honeybee paradise. I’m also in love with Chinese Red Noodle Beans.

  8. There’s no way I could have left my gardens on their own for more than a day or two this summer. Normally we would get enough rain to survive, but not this year. Too much heat and no rain made things really difficult this summer…even with plenty of mulch. Now that it has “cooled down” to normal temps things are starting to come around again. I just hope it’s not too late for some of them.

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