Like a lot of us, I have a small home garden that is compromised of a lot of little indulgences: tomatoes, basil, parsley. Zucchini if the moth grubs don’t eat away at the root system from the inside out. As my husband says, the garden is “my thing.” He wakes up in the morning and waters it while doing a few other of his other AM chores, but as for the rest- the garden is my gig. I’m not sure why he has been so “you handle it” with the garden because he likes to be pretty involved with the household “going’s on.” Maybe because it is an extension of food and I’m generally the one who cooks? Or maybe it’s just because he knows it makes me happy. I like having things that are just mine. It can be a problem. Any way…
This year we layered the entire bed (it’s really not that large, maybe 4×12 feet?) with our compost. It was great since the soil looked dark, rich, and fortified. But by the time April came to a close, we had baby tomato plants sprouting EVERYWHERE. My father-in-law, who has become a farmer in his retirement, told me to just weed them up. But being the stubborn garden lord I am, where did he get off? Who is he to tell me what to do with these wonderful little, tenacious babies in my own domain? Remember what I said about that problem?
Well, turns out WHO he thought he was was someone with lot of experience in farming and growing crops. It was too much and the seedlings were choking out the garden. We ended up leaving 4 to grow on their own and I took about a dozen sprouts out and kept them in little seeding pots, just in case.
We also have, what I hope, are a few pumpkin plants growing. Last year my husband took the decorative pumpkins I was given by my in-laws (they also grow pumpkins) and threw them in the garden when they began to rot. I just can’t believe that they began growing all on their own. I shouldn’t be shocked, that’s what seeds are meant to do, but I was just so thrilled! I am SO looking forward to seeing what gords pop up as the summer ebbs into fall. And I won’t have to leave the house to supply my own seasonal decorations. Their blossoms are as beautiful as zucchini, lovely and wide open in the morning and closed tight by the afternoon.
Not everything can be a fertile paradise in the garden, though. We have had absolutely no luck with bell peppers. I’m blaming it on the soil quality (it’s pretty sandy since we’re close to the shoreline) and that it ended up being planted in the same spot two years in a row. Last year, the plant produced one measly, deformed, reject pepper that we left on the vine for too long in hopes it would grow to be approximately the size of a baseball, but ultimately rotted and fell off.
The pepper plant is my Everest this year. I went out on my own accord, dug the thing out, and placed it in a pot where it can get lots of sun and snuggle into its high-end, store bought soil, equipped with the neutral ph it craves. I’m not sure if I need to concur up some other type of hedge witch magic (or just buy some fertilizer) but I better get some dang peppers.
All in all, I love being in the garden. I like inspecting the plants, clipping and pruning the tomato leaves, tending to the zucchini to make sure their flowers don’t lay to rot in the wet soil. I even sprouted store bought celery from the trimming and planted that (will report back later on progress.) I take the garden personally. If something fails, it’s my fault because I’m in charge of her. And if something is beautiful and healthy, I did my job. If I uproot a plant to move it, know I have dwelled on the decision for days before doing so. Also there is something about being in the dirt that is calming and centering. The smell, its coolness.
I hope and pray for a fruitful garden this year. I want those tomato plants to flourish well into early October, filling my week nights will milling and cooking batches of sauce. I want to fry, sauté, and grate loads of zucchini- making pseudo pasta dishes and dense quick breads that fill the house with warming, cinnamon hugs. And above all else, I want to make at least ONE damned stuffed pepper.
If you have any late summer/early fall garden favorites, I would love to hear it. Keep in mind I am in New Jersey so climate is a thing. Or is it, any more? Honestly?