Princess Blight

Gardening is weird. From what I’ve learned, there are 101 ways to do it. In some years, you might be the Queen of Tomatoes. In other years, you might be Princess Blight.
Overwatering and underwatering exhibit the same symptoms which is highly frustrating for a nurse who wants a clear and concise treatment protocol. And then there is bolting. How dare you bolt and flower and then go sour before we consume all your power (my ode to my beloved but rebellious arugula).
If we are looking for high points in and around my summer garden, you will mostly find them in the around region. My garden was planted in a former hay field abutting the forest. As I labored with love on the weeds on the in region, I took the occasional stroll around the edge to walk it off- the sore hands, the frustration, the crying Winnie in a stroller.
On my stroll, I found forest food after forest foot that had nothing to do with my strategically executed labors.
Earlier on, it was black raspberries. Shortly after, it was gooseberries. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, plums started dropping from the sky. Wild grapes followed. A rogue squash plant grew out of nowhere. You can see how this became both discouraging and enlightening.
After my nice stroll along the fruitful forest edge, I reluctantly returned to my struggling cabbage patch. I continued to pluck weeds that largely consisted of purslane and lambs quarter, two incredibly nutritious and delicious greens. It soon felt silly to throw these aside so I chose one of three options- eat them, pile them up for the pigs, or talk about them with Hutch so at least he won’t be silly enough to dispose of nature’s bounty.
The fourth option took hold around late July- retire from weeding entirely. My new motto became “what takes, takes; screw the rest,” or something like that.
My anti-weeding inspo came from our pig garden that I mentioned in the last blog post. Our pigs perfectly sprinkled their manure and food scrap remnants in last year’s pen which they had diligently tilled up to the point of no weed growth (except some of that lambs quarter).
It was a large space filled with volunteer squashes, pumpkins, gourds, and tomatoes. They were tended to by no one and grew better than anything in my labor of loathing.. I mean love.
I have to admit that some things turned out great. Those some things were okra (which I have never consumed before in my life), tomatillos (which I have never cooked with before in my life), and watermelon (which really made my summer, honestly; Winnie’s too).
Today is September 13th and I want to believe that my tomatoes are still coming. In the meantime, I’ll keep picking the red volunteers over in the pig garden. I do have to walk through burning nettle to get those, but it’s worth it.
Last winter, I read an entire encyclopedia on gardening. It was an awesome book, and as I always do, I took meticulous notes. The book was titled “Fresh from the Garden” by John Whitman. I wonder if John Whitman would read this blog and use my testimonies to promote his very informative teachings :/. John, I’ll do better next year! I promise, your book was really good.
Apparently, studying is only part of gardening. I think I just need practice, a better watering system (which is in the works thanks to Sam and Patty), less distractions, more persistence, and if possible- more predictable weather patterns. Oh, I should also do less. Instead of planting everything, I’ll skip the okra.