Beyond photos and dog walks, maybe the most enjoyable thing I do away from the keyboard is working in my yard, my 1/3 of an acre of land. I have done a lot this year after expanding the fence to the whole tard, making stone walkways, “wee walls” and new leveled out areas for plants and trees to spread.
After a bust last year, I have a good crop of apples on the mature tree, and one plum tree has enough fruit to make some jam and maybe a pie. My wildflowers are spreading wildly, and my irises put on a grand, tall show.
But alas, my vegetable garden, this year set a new level of pathetic return.
My plot is 9×9 feet on the west side of my shed, and it gets intense afternoon sun. I added maybe 8 inches of much last year, and reinforced the fence with small hole chicken wire in an attempt to keep critters out. I have a water system set to sprinkle it every other day, so it’s not starving when I travel.
The growing season in this part of north central Arizona needs to wait until mid or late May to be after the last frost. In my experience, most of the summer is just an effort to keep the stuff alive, until August, and then there is a productive 4-8 weeks of production until the fall cold weather cuts things off.
This year none of the seeds I put in early June showed up. Of the 10 lettuce plants I put in, some critters munched 8 until I got some wire cylinders around the last 2 (same thing happened last year). The two tomato plants are in hospice. Of about 9 squash I put un, usually plants that go nuts here, I have remnants of 3 alive, but barely. It looks like the rest were chewed.
What does best here is sage– this plant has been in the corner for maybe 10 years, and always comes back
My chive plant too is a regular returner, and looks full. But what else do you do with chive except toss them on potatoes and maybe in soup? The two basil and one oregano plant I kept alive inside over the winter are alive, but hardly growing anything I can cook with.
So guess where I have a healthy squash plant growing and maybe 4 more showing up? In the place I did not plant them… it’s growing in the compost I spread around my aspen trees.
Likewise, of all the sunflower seeds I harvested last year and planted this year, none emerged from the ground… the sunflower plants that are up and flowering are all coming from that compost spread.
I consider all of this experimentation and learning what works. What I am finding does not work is me buying plants or seeds and putting them in my vegetable garden. I am thinking of putting more herbs in there and wildflowers and stopping putting in flats of purchased plants. And then I will make sure in my compost goes more seeds of vegetables I want to grow, and letting the plant grow where ever the compost lands.
There might be some kind of metaphor here, and exercise left for the reader. But I am not going to count on my gardening for growing a salad.