I’ve cultivated a tiny bed of dirt where I’ve been growing vegetables for the last four years. Each year there’s a recurrence of certain plants with an addition or two of new ones. I start with yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and eggplant. Two years ago I experimented unsuccessfully with brussel sprouts. Last year I added sugar snap peas but something made lunch of the newly sprung shoots, pulling them out by the roots – one morning there was a cluster of new green growth, the next disturbed dirt where the tender young plants had been.
This year, my garden expanded to pots on and around my deck. I planted my staples, added swiss chard, spinach and different types of lettuce. The spinach didn’t survive. The swiss chard has been spotty; I’ve been able to sauté a few leaves and stalks, have picked a few more but the majority of the leaves have large holes with brown edges. The lettuce was a success, I harvested fresh greens daily for my lunch and dinner salads. I never worried about the regulars that populated my garden, assumed the veggies I’ve been planting for the last three years would grow. I’ve watered, I’ve fertilized, I’ve clipped suckers off of tomato plants and pulled dead leaves from the lower portion of the cucumbers and squash.
The yellow squash and zucchini seemed to be thriving; they had been flowering, bees had been landing between the petals, pollination seemed a sure thing. But, everyday I gingerly moved leaves out of the way to check for fruit. Nothing. More and more leaves died off even though the top leaves remained green and flowers still burst open every morning. The other night, Bill and I finally took a closer peek and saw what looked like shredded wheat at the base of most of the plants. After talking to someone who knows a lot more about farming than I do, and reading up on the internet, I can only assume my plants had succumbed to squash vine borer damage. Reluctantly, we pulled all the squash from the garden, dumped the carcasses in a brown lawn and leaf bag to be hauled away. My cucumbers aren’t growing either but I don’t know why.
I harvested string beans from the nest of greens in the back row of my tiny garden but don’t expect to get anymore. Something (I’m looking at you rabbit) has eaten all of the leaves; a miniature forest of delicate, naked stalks is all that’s left. I’ve picked one jalapeno pepper but don’t see any flowers signaling more.
Red, green and frying peppers are fine. There’s an eggplant ready for picking and my tomatoes, though still green, are abundant and healthy looking. I’ve made guacamole with fresh cilantro, pesto with fresh basil, sprinkled oregano in just about everything I’ve made.
Still, I admit to being disappointed with the lackluster performance of most of my vegetables.
But, instead of dwelling on what’s been lost I decided to enjoy what’s prospered. I walked around my deck, snipped a flower here, cut a flower there. The daisies and salvia have passed their prime but I added them to my bouquet anyway. When I walk into my living room I’m greeted by a vase full of flowers that I’ve nurtured into bloom.