Perhaps your garden matters more than you think it does. Never has the world seen such unprecedented gambling with any and all systems, natural and manmade, including leveraged bets on your food supply. If you are gardening this summer, on behalf of your plants and all the supporting cast of pollinators, worms and birds, as well as your future piece of mind, I’d like to personally thank you.
If you haven’t started growing a garden to supplement the food you eat, or if you‘re taking a break this season, let me take this opportunity to say in my most convincing mommy-voice, “Your Garden Matters!”
With persistent what-the-hell-happened-to-our-weather conditions since last year, we have experienced full-on wacky gardening since winter finally ended (for the second time) in May. Growing plants and vegetables which are often simple has been nearly impossible, while other trickier crops are thriving in full rainforest mode. One thing I am certain of is there’s no such thing as ‘normal’ growing conditions these days.
Because of a very late frost our kiwi never blossomed to make fruit. A superb strawberry season was cut short and the asparagus did not have a happy spring. Two torrential rain storms literally washed away rows of newly planted sweet corn, leaving rivers of muddy clay where a light sprinkling of mulch had covered the carefully tended rows. Some of the corn eventually sprouted in the nearby grass.
Having reached our 4th summer here on Cog Mountain, for the very first time birds attempted to wipe out our blueberries. I had been so happy ours were healthy and ripening after hearing that much of the east coast had lost its blueberries to late frost. But then fate decided my big plump purpling berries had an alternative destination. It was a small consolation when I discovered there was half the blueberry crop left for me tucked under each big branch. It seems the greedy crows only picked from the top of the bushes.
The lettuce and spinach really struggled to germinate this year. So much rain and so little sun left a soggy mess in those beds. Contrarily, the kale doesn’t care about little things like weather and has replaced our daily fresh salads with kale chips and smoothies.
The usual suspects, i.e. the tomatoes, onions, peppers, kidney & black beans along with the squash are all doing fine….so far. For the first year in three the butternut squash didn’t get soggy and die early, so we’re looking forward to more butternut soup and bisque this fall.
Even with all the growing challenges, as cheesy as this may sound I’m finding when a door slams shut several windows open. Herbs I use for spices and medicines are growing abundantly this year. Additionally, wildflowers and the so-called weeds I collect for medicinal teas and salves love the non-stop summer rains. The yarrow, red clover, plantain and peppermint are available to cut and dry in unlimited quantities. I invested additional time to gather more than I usually do with the thinking next year may not have such favorable conditions to produce as abundantly. These days we just never seem to know.
My garden compost has also thrived through the soggy and foggy routine of late. Each turn of the pile yields tens, even hundreds of worms at a time. I am confident that absent my ability to purchase organic fertilizers and plant foods for the garden, we could adequately feed the fruits and veggies via composted worm dirt.
The bio-diversity of life in our garden appears to be increasing. This year brought a large number of lady-bugs, toads, and a rather bothersome tunneling animal I assume is a groundhog. He has yet to pop through and consume noticeable vegetables, though his tunnels have destabilized and toppled a few corn stalks. I have no idea what he may be doing deep down near my sweet potatoes. Out of sight is NOT out of mind.
The bottom line seems to be that gardening has morphed from a soothing pastime or quiet hobby into a necessary adventure. Many areas of the world now experience extreme conditions such as torrential winds and rain or out of season cold snaps, droughts and floods. With unpredictable weather and the precarious geo-political and financial systems teetering, it is clear to me uncertainty is the new normal. Perhaps it really is time to re-affirm that Your Garden Does Matter more than ever.