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The State of the Garden

Gardening.

I lovehate it so much.

A few years ago, the HOA here took an empty plot of land and divided it into twelve garden plots. Those who were interested could buy a plot and plant it up. Given that the flowerbed inside my fence is tiny and shady and no place to grow vegetables, I was all over this idea because it meant I could try New Things.

Year one was probably my best year, because the tomatoes and cucumbers were amazing. I really dislike store-bought cukes after growing my own. Year two was less successful, and this year has been the worst of all. Let’s talk veggies.

Neighbors

The trick to successful gardening is often whose plot you’re next to, and where your plot is located in the path of the sun. Year one and two, I had great sunshine and everything grew (which I think we can agree is vital to producing flowers which lead to veggies). This year… The neighboring plot to the west of mine has been untended. Oh, it’s still apparently owned but she didn’t plant this year and hasn’t weeded. Thus, she has parsnips from last year which are now taller than me (5’5″). These parsnips are shading my tomatoes, which I planted in what should have been the sunniest stretch of my plot.

Tomatoes

…don’t actually love shade! While I’ve gotten some nice tomatoes this year, the plants look absolutely pathetic and my grape tomatoes haven’t produced at all. The plants are trying to grow tall to reach the sun, so they’re not filling out in any way. So much energy is being expended on reaching for the sun that they’re not producing flowers. I contacted the guy who wrangles we gardeners, asking if we could get this woman to tend her plot or at least cut down the old growth parsnips. No reply. Joy. And she’s never home for me to talk with (which may explain why she’s not gardening this year).

Cukes

I think my first year growing them spoiled me. I had oodles of them and they were the best thing. Last year, my cukes got cross-pollinated by, you guessed it, my parsnip neighbor’s squash. They ended up tiny (two inches maybe) with little crook necks exactly like her squash. They were bitter and squashy in taste, too. This year? Tons of flowers, but no fruit. Are all my flowers one gender? I’ve gone around and rubbed them up to see if I could do the work of the bees, and there are two tiny cukes coming in—but they look like squash again. The neighboring plot to the east of me has the same troubles—all flowers, no cukes.

Brussels sprouts

This was my big new thing to try this year. Talk about failure. Apparently the squirrels are super fond of them, because they mowed through what came up.

Carrots

Also beloved by squirrels. I planted two packets of seeds and got exactly two carrots. They were the dragon carrots, which are purple, so that was interesting at least.

Strawberries

Are going a little crazy, but they’re so thick, the leaves tend to keep the berries shaded. Need to read up on dividing them, if possible, and spreading out the berry plot. Have had enough berries to make for snacking while I do other garden work—a constant pleasure. Surprised the birds don’t come, but again the leaves might play into that, too.

Other fails

Peppers are only just starting to get to any kind of size, my thyme did not grow, neither did my cilantro (which is weird because that always does so well). Plan to leave the thyme alone, as it may prove to be like my lavender; it may come back really well next year. Someone actually cut down my snap peas. I’m pretty upset over that, but yeah. The vines were cut and carried away, just when I’d come out to harvest all the fantastic little peas. This is the danger of a community garden, maybe, though I’d never had anyone outright steal before. Green onions did not develop much size, my dill was thin and reedy.

Other successes

My lavender, in its third year, is gorgeous. Chives are fairly insane and probably need some work to be drawn back into a reasonable patch.

Next year?

Zucchini? Brussels sprouts? Carrots? Would really like to get green onions and peppers going, but I have failed three years in a row.

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