Every day compulsion drives me outside to gaze upon my garden.
A large part of its charm arises from the minute daily changes, whether it’s green beans one day closer to harvest, or a previously undiscovered cucumber suddenly revealed beneath the foliage. Today I decided to pull out the last straggling radishes, and make a point to check for weeds. That’s when I realized I’ve taken an enormous step in garden management.
Here’s a shot from last July’s garden.
Yes, the squash plant has collapsed, but aside from that, the lemon balm has overgrown half the garden, and grass is invading everywhere.
Whereas this year…
This is the spot from which I just pulled the radishes, and where I’ll be putting something in for fall (not sure yet what…). Here’s another picture near the middle of the bed.
I can see one or two unwelcome sprouts, but mostly I see beans, carrots, tomatoes, herbs and marigolds (and a bonus McKenna). I give a lot of credit to that layer of crushed leaves I mulched with, one of the big lessons I learned this year. This picture also illustrates some of the head scratching that goes on in the garden. The bean plant on this side of the path sprouted at least a week before the one behind the path. Part of the problem was that the front one was overgrown by radishes, but not that much.
Perhaps these guys have something to do with it.
These are about a half-dozen volunteer tomato plants that I let grow, thinking they were marigolds--the young leaves are similar, and I tried to spread the flowers throughout the bed. Though these are mostly cherry tomatoes, I’m just as happy to have them, since my one beefsteak tomato plant looks like this.
Skinny, gangly, with a single fruit. This will be one of those classic $5 tomatoes we gardeners have all grown at some point. Wrong place for tomatoes, I guess.
I’ve tentatively concluded that I’m more of a spring gardener. My peas, broccoli and root crops do well every year. I just pulled up most of the remaining carrots to donate to Friendship Gardens. I got four pounds, not a bad haul. And they were pretty, too.
I’ve donated almost 15 pounds of produce this year, from herbs and radishes to cucumbers and cherry tomatoes.
Now, besides keeping up with the weeds, I have been busy keeping up with deadlines, too. My writing career is still more of a hobby, but it has been growing steadily. I’ve had 10 stories published online with a local independent paper, one actually in print (which pays significantly better), and another coming out next month in a special dining section. That one involved a visit with a photographer to a local farm. As happens often, the space limits made me chop the experience down to just a few hundred words, so I wrote up a more complete story here, on my other blog. (If you’re tired of reading about my garden, I strongly suggest you click on over for something much more interesting.)
I’ve also just been assigned two stories in the local Edible magazine—which pays even better yet. It’s nowhere near enough to even pay the mortgage, but I’m happy with this progress. I have two or three more weeks of a journalism class, which will finish up with some pointers about how to pitch a story, after which I plan to start submitting to more publications. I’ll be in a good position then, with so many published articles to point to.
In the meantime, I’ve got a very part-time, probably temporary job managing a donation station at a local market. And of course, I’m filling lots of time with volunteer work for Friendship Gardens. So although I’m mostly unemployed still, I am not bored or lonely.