I’m having my annual gardening-caused mental meltdown. When it comes to vegetables this winter (the best time to grow them here in Los Angeles) if it could go wrong it did. Vegetables are needy, fussy plants and we’ve not had much luck with them recently. So I thought I would list the factors, natural and human that went into this year’s lackluster veggie garden in the hopes of preventing future bouts of veggie neurosis.
Acts of Nature
- Bad weather—a freakishly hot fall planting season–lost the first round of seedlings despite using shade cloth.
- Soil issues–clearly time to do a soil test in my raised beds or just bite the bullet and get some new soil. Something is out of balance.
- Mammals–I’ve never had so many midnight skunk raids. Someone tell me if skunks are edible.
Oh, the humanity
- Fatigue and frustration–the double knockout punch of skunks and the hot weather left me on the ropes with little enthusiasm for ongoing gardening maintenance.
- Ego–forgetting that urban homesteading is not about self-sufficiency—to chase self-sufficiency is a fool’s errand. I should be happy just to have a few good salads and be thankful that I can buy good vegetables at a local farmer’s market. I don’t think self-sufficiency is a good goal even on a large piece of land. We humans are meant to work together, hang out in groups and share goods and knowledge. I’ve got some talented vegetable growing neighbors. Perhaps it’s time we put our heads together and help each other garden. We’ve talked about it in the past, but somehow never got around to it.
- Lack of engagement with the garden. For me this is the most critical issue and I think it is related to dissatisfaction with the design of the garden, particularly the backyard. I don’t want to hang out in the backyard because it just reminds me of how much work I’ve got to do. This becomes a vicious cycle. I then don’t put in enough work to get plants going. Time to come up with some new design ideas–perhaps the neighbors can help here to.
So how are things shaping up in your gardens? If it’s winter where you are, what are your plans for the coming year?