Sunday, August 31, 2008

Victory Garden Means Something Different to Me

Those of you who read this blog probably know that I walk my dog Bear every day, along a creek trail that backs up to homes. I see many backyards along the way. What I most notice is what's growing: who has a pear tree, where the figs hang over the fence, where to find the most succulent (and clean, if you know what I mean) blackberries and who has a nice garden.

This year I noticed a few gardens in particular. One of them used to be spectacular in its bounty but that was a few years ago. This year I saw just one squash plant, and it seemed to take over. I now see that it is a giant pumpkin-like squash possibly growing as a Harvest Fair entry.

A couple of yards down they plant a garden yearly. Usually there are a couple of tomato plants that shrouded by a PVC cage and plastic early in the season. These plants grow quickly as their home obviously traps heat and keeps them from the frost. This year I saw that the garden also has a summer squash, a number of flowers such as dianthus and a peach tree bearing fruit.

In the yard directly adjacent to the small garden, there was a lot of activity early on with raised beds, large pots, drip irrigation pieces and more. The garden got all set up, the plants looked great and I was certain that this garden was going to thrive, as it was so much lusher than the neighbor’s was. (BTW, I don't think that they actually see each other or their yards due to a large fence between them. This is California where this is common.)

I had tomato envy as I watched daily as their plants grew large, green and strong. However, sometime in the summer, when I saw large red tomatoes in the small garden I saw plants in the other garden start to die back. Now, the raised bed garden is in shambles and seems quite disregarded.

And all of this brings me to my little raised bed garden -- hardly a Victory Garden (which is more of what my mother has) except for me. I’m thrilled to harvest the fruits of my labor. This year it's strictly tomatoes as my two cucumber plants died, and I had to pull out the nasturtium that adopted aphids that hopped onto my tomatoes.

My tomatoes seem to be doing fine except for some attacks by critters who want to claim them as their own. It will be the battle of the wills and wits to see who ends up with more fruit. I am still waiting patiently for the first ripe tomatoes to arrive and it seems as if they will this week. I always hope to have them by the end of August but not this year.

If you live east of the Rocky Mountains, you are lucky, as your summer garden doesn't need watering but mine does almost daily, especially if it is hot, as we don't get summer rain. Despite that, I like to grow what little I can, and just participating in the process is the victory for me.

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