Monday, July 23, 2012

The Garden Report: July 23, 2012

I did a lot of yard work over the weekend. A lot of it. It had reached the point where it simply had to be done, no matter how much I didn’t feel like doing it. The last six weeks, I’ve been all, Eh, I don’t feel well enough…my back hurts too much…my ovary is throbbing…I feel nauseated…plus it’s too hot…and also did I mention the back pain?...AND, I’m tiiiiiiiired…(oddly, these sorts of things seem to get nothing but worse for me when I cater to them – go figure).

Meanwhile, although obviously there were Expectations to the contrary, the yard work steadfastly refused to simply do itself – instead, an ocean of weeds began to develop across the entire yard, the lawn grew and grew in length to the point where we were afraid neighborhood cats and dogs might be killed and eaten by tigers living in it, and a lot of the food growing in the back yard withered from a combination of drought and neglect.
I got up Saturday morning already doing the “Eeeeeeeeeh, I don’t feel…!” whine, only to glance out my back window at a weed-encrusted, largely-dead, so-called corn field and go, “…{long-suffering sigh}…c’mon, Toots, woman it up – we’re completely out of I Really Don’t Feel Like It passes on this deal…”

In related news, I really didn’t expect that I would feel any too good today because of it, and lo I was right. I feel like death warmed over today. I am regretting every weed I pulled, every cucumber I harvested, every square centimeter of lawn I mowed. I am so tired I could almost cry. Very Small Things™ are giving me a case of the weepies today. I am also having to tell myself, firmly, that one does not pick up the phone and scream, “I QUIT!!!!!!” into it just because one is having a touch of extra back pain and fatigue on a given day (or because folks are – all kidding and sarcasm aside, blithely and innocently dropping larger-than-they-realize bombs into your lap).

Sense of duty aside, I suspect several of my team members would literally have heart attacks and die if I were to simply walk out on them at this point. And only a couple of them would deserve it. So, you know, for the sake of the ten nine eight seven six five four three two one (eh, one and a half) decent men in Sodom…I shall spare the project.
I know. My magnanimity, it knows no bounds. (Magnanimity, mega-animosity…I never noticed before how close they are, spelling-wise.)

But at the same time, I’m glad I did it. Things really were getting bad out there; for example, check out this beauty.
Overgrown Cucumber

That would be a cucumber. It is the size of an overgrown zucchini. And also, it is bright yellow. When it is supposed to look more like this:
One day picking

Most of the yard looked kind of like this bed – which is more weeds than plants.
Weeds run through it

This is what was left after all the weeds were out of there.
Cleaned up

The other trouble spot is the roma tomatoes – they had rather ugly water issues, and thus we have blossom rot – in this really blurry picture (shot through my tears), you see how the bottom of the tomato looks kind of flat? Yeah. That’s the blossom rot. Sigh.
Blurry tomato

Some plants are wondering what all the drama is about – the Blue Nile potatoes are growing like gangbusters.
Blue Nile potatoes

And the cucumbers appear to feel that the heat waves are no big deal.
HEALTHY cucumbers

The butternut squash is fairly happy.

And half of the peanut bed is like a green carpet of peanut plants.

The red potatoes aren’t complaining much either.
Red potatoes

Don’t let the drooping fool you – the okra is doing just fine.

And yams are kind of slow to get started every time – the vines are perfectly healthy, so pretty soon they should start sending down those ‘extra’ roots and carpeting the whole box.

The watermelon patch is…a little scruffy.
Three amigos

And heat + peas = dead peas. (The corn-like stuff in the back there is broom corn – a.k.a., sorghum. Hopefully, there will be at least one (1) broom-worth of bristles on those stalks by the time they’re done.)
Dead peas

And my corn? Eh, not doing so good. The watering issue we’ve had have really stunted their growth rather terribly. Meh.
Scrubby corn

The rhubarb is pretty happy, though!

And the louffa are ready to start climbing!

The container tomatoes are doing pretty well – they’re a bit slow to set blossoms, but hopefully they’ll catch up soon.
Spaced tomatoes

And the container zucchini is proving to be great – it produces considerably less than the “regular” bushes, which is just fine by me. We got more than a little tired of zucchini by this time last year, thanks all the same.
Container Zuccs

The Stuben yellow-eye beans are doing really well – and dried beans remain one of the best things for a gardener with limited daily time to grow. As long as it isn’t raining, any dried out pods that stay on the vine an extra few days are no big deal – they don’t go bad or turn all stringy or any of the other things that other vegetables are prone to doing if you don’t get out there and pick in a timely fashion.
Stuben beans

The bush beans are doing OK – I planted a bunch more in that center circle yesterday, to give us a second crop of fresh-eating green beans in a couple months.
Bush beans

The brussel sprouts are doing pretty well – the alien ships are beginning to cluster around the mother-ship stalks.
Brussel sprouts

And Danger Mouse’s flower bed has morning glories peeking out of it.
Shy morning glories

It’s amazing to me how things are managing to survive out there in spite of me and my Issues lately; they could be doing better, I suppose, but all things considered we’ve got an awful lot going on out there. A lot more success than failure, overall.
But at the same time, frankly, weekends like this one are why I sometimes get this weird smirk on my face and avert my eyes when people start waxing poetic about how simply divine my weird lifestyle is, and how much they envy me (or those like me) and are themselves laying down Great and Mighty Plans in which they too will convert their whole entire living space over to the art, YES, ART, FOR LO, WHAT GREATER ART HATH MAN THAN THAT OF HIS OWN LIVING? of DIY lifestyle.
It puts me in an awkward place, really, because I know that for a lot of folks...this is so not an enjoyable lifestyle. It's demanding. It's unrelenting. It punishes laziness severely, while sometimes rewarding hard work with "meh" results for no apparent reason.
The work is often hard. It's sweaty. It's dirty. It's hours and hours of doing what you must instead of what sounds like fun right about then. And then you're sore, and tired, and also not ACTUALLY done.
There's always more that wants doing. Always.
And sometimes, find yourself thinking that on the whole, this whole thing kind of bites. And that giving it up is probably your best course of action.
But then, just can't. And you're honestly not sure if it is the joy of doing, or just mule-headedness...but...either know you're going to get out there again tomorrow. And the tomorrow after that. You know that you will be canning, and drying, and pickling all summer and fall, clear into the winter; that you will jokingly refer to your neatly labeled rows of Mason jars full of everything from baked beans to cucumber relish as 'Super-Advanced Laziness' because, see, it took a ton of time to grow and harvest and process and all? But look, ma, FAST FOOD!
And then I look at this person, at their soft hands and McPadded bodies, their perfectly clean jeans that have never knelt in a squip! of busted-sprinkler mud, the nails that haven't actually needed a nail brush since they were children...and I find myself smirking a little. Because I don't know what to say, really; I can't begin to guess how this person will react to the inevitable days when nothing is going right, and it's too hot, and there are far more interesting things going on but these things can't be left for even one more day...when backs ache and sweat is rolling down the inside of jeans, when something just hauled off and bit you from under that bush...gah, hope I'm not about to find out what a black widow bite really feels like today...because I don't have time for that, I've got this-n-this-n-this to get done today, or I'm going to lose this whole set...
Maybe they will hate it with a mad passion, and spit on the names of those who talked so enthusiastically about the "cunning" pea blossoms or the "sweet" little carrot fronds.
Maybe they will love it so much they hardly register the hard days.
I feel I should warn them. I feel I shouldn't. If they try it, if they build and tend it, will they look out their windows at their empires and realize they are its master and slave at the same time? And will that make them feel somehow whole inside? Or only trapped by the constant call of a duty no longer technically required of us?
Would they see something more than themselves in a shyly peeking morning glory, winking thanks for a new trellis to climb and a side-dressing of fertilizer?
Blue is hiding
Only one way for them to find I remain silent and smile and tell them the truth: It's hard work, very hard sometimes, but it has many rewards that make it worth me, anyway.


Anonymous said...

Cool ... very poetic today!
Nancy FP in Ferndale

PipneyJane said...

You have the right to feel justly proud of your achievements. Don't knock it. (You also have the right, IMHO, to a damn good back massage. That is one hell of a lot of work you did last weekend, woman!)

Out of the scary blue-yonder, my DH has decided he wants an allotment, a la The Good Life His rationale: it'd be good exercise for him. I look out at our unmown, unweeded empire and worry. (Until this week, we have had almost constant rain since 1st April - I have done one day of gardening in that time.)

One day, I aspire to be as on top of things as your are.

- Pam

Colleen Mole said...

Well said. I plan to slowly expand my empire (with or perhaps without my dh's knowledge :) as my daughter grows and hopefully is willing to help mama with the garden. Here's hoping