My garden plot was a failure this year. But not for lack of trying.
I have enjoyed gardening for many years. But most of the places I’ve lived haven’t been conducive to growing edible things. Since moving to Bunkerstan, I finally found a climate where I could grow food.
There are two community gardens in my city. The city park service, for a nominal fee, rents out plots 20×30 feet where residents can grow food or flowers for the summer months. Now, I think it is a wonderful thing that the community makes these things available. In fact, I found the thought exciting. Here was a chance for me to live a more “green” lifestyle.
Because I was growing my own food, I could not help thinking of my garden as a “victory garden”. A victory garden, was the garden plot people were encouraged to have during WW II to grow food to supplement their diet. It was encouraged so that the bulk of agriculture could be committed to the war effort.
I spent a couple hundred dollars on gardening supplies, because I didn’t have what I needed to properly tend a vegetable garden. I also bought some cheap plastic material and stakes to build a small fence line, that I think did more to satisfy my territoriality than it ever would to stop animals (or as it turned out) people from taking what they would.
Last year, I grew an assortment of vegetables and herbs. I grew everything from tomatoes to green beans, cucumbers to zucchini, chives, oregano, and chili peppers. I had more food than I could eat, and I was sharing my harvest with people at the office, and friends. My only frustration was with the tomatoes, that for whatever reason, were disappearing as soon as they started to ripen. Toward the end of the season, my garden was looted. I found plants torn up and tossed into a corner, the few remaining tomatoes and zucchini and my peppers disappeared. I told myself that it was okay. That clearly someone thought I was done with the garden, since it was late in the year. I told myself that they needed the food, because they were hungry. I told myself that I was giving away so much that really, did I care if someone anonymously helped themselves…?
This year I again took up a plot at the community garden, and again I constructed my fence, hoed the earth, planted my seeds, carted water in milk jugs from home, weeded through the extreme heat of July and the ferocious mosquitoes.
But this year, my efforts hardly paid off. I had a couple of zucchini which I shared, three cherry tomatoes, one cabbage, and handful of cucumbers that frankly weren’t anywhere near as appealing as last year. The cauliflower never produced. The celery never got off the ground. The beans were a failure (again because of the very hot season).
Ahh, but there were the watermelon plants. They were thriving, and I watched with eager anticipation as they started to grow little watermelons. I was so looking forward to watermelon. When the first one grew to the length of my arm, I picked it, wishing to gauge how long they needed to grow. I estimated two more weeks, and started the clock on the others which were just the size of my thumb, and on the flowers which were still in bloom.
But each melon that I carefully watched after disappeared before I decided they were ready. I would go out on a Saturday afternoon to find them gone. There were five in total that I never had. Five watermelons that someone else helped themselves to. Frustratingly, I couldn’t defend my harvest by picking them when they weren’t ripe. They needed to be on the vine. They would be there on Wednesday little stumpy things that would need another week and a half. And, inevitably, when I would go out to the garden to collect, they would be gone. It happened again this Saturday when I went for the last time to my garden. My gate was open, and the last watermelon was gone.
My reward for a summer’s toil was a disappointing yield, and stolen watermelon. My final reward for my summer of woe was the two hours I spent taking down my fence, and clearing the garden of anything that did not belong.
I hope the people who helped themselves needed the food. Maybe next year I’ll plant something else, along with the vegetables. I wonder if motion capture cameras grow well in this climate.