Some years are better than others but at least I have flowers

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flowers from my garden

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.

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last year’s zucchini and squash on the left. I’ll be buying this years’ crops from our local farm

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.

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I added hydrangea after photos were taken

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view from the top

Categories: Garden, Home, Musings

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35 replies

  1. What a gorgeous bouquet!
    And what a bummer about the squash! I’ve heard so many gardeners this year talking about a lackluster crop, particularly spinach. Sigh.
    One year none of my brother’s tomatoes grew. It’s frustrating to put so much effort into nurturing plants only to see them succumb to predators.

  2. You’ve really captured our garden philosophy in this post – plant what you like to eat, go with what works, try a few new things each year, be ready to pull the plug (that’s where we struggle – we let things that are clearly not growing or producing hang around way too long!). Oh, and if at first you don’t succeed, try again. We had to replant our beans twice this year – I think it was a mama grouse and a babies that chewed them all off when they were about 3 inches high. I’m trying spinach for the first time this year and it is doing pretty well. But our cucumbers are slow as molasses getting up that beautiful trellis that they filled last year. Sometimes I think you have to be way tougher to be a gardener than a writer. Loved the news of your garden.

    • Thanks, Fran. I smiled at your comment about it being tougher to be a gardener than a writer…both feel tough right now. 🙂 But, the gardens are indeed trial and error. My cucumbers feel your cucumbers’ pain, same situation over here. Glad you’re having success with your spinach. I’ll definitely try planting again. I picked the eggplant this morning, she’s a beauty!

  3. Your garden sounds wonderful. It’s far more ambitious than mine. Normally I have enough tomatoes to supply the neighborhood but this year my plants are not faring well. I get a handful each day and that’s it. The plants are starting to yellow. Next year I may do a major tilling, test the soil and add nutrients. Or then again, I may try your pot idea. I’d love to have my herbs handy. I always plant some State Fair (tall) zinnias for cutting. They are amazing this year even with all the rain.

    • I usually dump bags of manure and soil in my garden every year to get it ready and have never had a problem. But I may need to do something different next year. We had cool weather up until a week or so ago when we had a heat wave. Does that mess with the plants’ psyche? I planted the herbs and lettuce in pots…swiss chard and spinach went in the garden. Hmmmm, there’s something going on or someone’s messing with me! Zinnias are so pretty!

  4. Love your bouquet Geralyn!! I definitely think the fluctuation in temperatures have a lot to do with plant behavior. For me it’s that and managing the wild animals that think flowers and veggies were planted for them!

    • Thanks, Mary. Summer started off cool with a lot of rain, now it’s hot, dry and humid. Maybe the squash and cucumbers didn’t like the drastic change in weather. My flowers are doing great, though!

  5. This is exactly why I plant more perennials than vegetables. I love getting gorgeous flowers year after year. The tomatoes? Delicious, but not always a good year… 🙂

  6. That bouquet is luscious. I love the colors. We can image that gardening is easy until we try it. There are so many variables. My first vegetable garden many years ago was an enormous success. Virgin soil in a river valley plus luck helped me out.

    • My neighbor’s garden is enviable year after year. They tell me it’s because their soil is so rich from years of planting. I thought, 4 years in, I couldn’t lose. Oh well, guess my soil isn’t as rich or the bugs like mine better!

  7. Farming is complicated! Your bouquet is lovely. I never do well with flowers. But I, too, have had spotty luck with a tiny garden plot. It seems carrots and green onions are simple staples. My lettuce was great during the spring, but I left at the end of June and the heat came in my wake, baking the earth and the lettuce, cilantro, and snap peas to shells. The tiny tomatoes seem to thrive no matter what…probably because I’m not all that fond of tomatos. I’ve got a cut little mini hot,hot pepper plant that is thriving. My chard looked pretty grim earlier in the year, but now it is overtaking the rest of my tiny garden. And most amazing is what appears to be a volunteer squash plant that has sprouted outside of the official gardenlet. I sort of throw my compost there, so perhaps a seed from last fall has sprouted. I wonder if it will bear fruit.

    • I tried planting onions last year but they didn’t thrive. I’ll have to try them again and add carrots to the mix. My friend’s chard is flourishing too. She planted in a large whiskey barrel and the chard is abundant. I may try to plant in a pot next year. Nice surprise to get squash when you haven’t planted it. I guess I got a little cocky assuming my garden would be as good as it’s been in the past. My sister and I share the bounty so I’m disappointed I can’t offer her fresh squash and zucchini.

  8. Good thing I logged onto Facebook. Your post didn’t appear in my reader, Geralyn. 😦 Oh, your flowers are absolutely beautiful! That would make me forget about the veggie pretty quick. 🙂

  9. Ohhhh, I’m so sorry about the mishaps with the veggies, but I must say that the flowers are gorgeous. I love the colours and I think you already know that I’m a huge fan of the daisy family, especially Gerberas.
    I’m still jealous of your fresh garden herbs, lettuce and tomatoes.
    🙂

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