I’m struggling this morning for metaphors to describe our summer vegetable and fruit garden: Napoleon at Waterloo, the Hindenburg disaster, being locked in a cell with a recording of “Achy Breaky Heart” in a continuous loop. In short, growing edibles this year was an unmitigated disaster. Here’s a few of the things that happened:
- We planted a bed of basil seeds and got lambsquarters (Chenopodium album) instead. Yes, I know lambsquarters are edible, but I was looking forward to the basil.
- Our Swiss Chard, usually a good performer, was stunted and anemic. It seemed incapable of growing past 8 inches.
- Our tomatoes grew well, produced a fair amount of fruit and then abruptly dried up and croaked.
- We planted zucchini too late and it got a bad case of powdery mildew.
- The raccoons figured out how to bust through the bird netting that was supposed to keep them out of the vegetable beds. They completely obliterated two out of four vegetable beds.
- With the exception of our pomegranate tree, every last peach, apple, persimmon and most of our figs were harvested by squirrels and raccoons.
- The Nectaplum, Santa Rosa plum and nectarine trees did not produce a single fruit due, I think, to a lack of chill hours caused by climate change.
- Drought, of course, made everything worse. We had to water our already alkaline soil with alkaline water. Only the native plants and what we call the Biblical plants seem happy (e.g. the fig and the pomegranate).
- The drought and an extreme heat wave pushed everything in the garden to the edge–and a few over the edge: in the last month we abruptly lost some garden stalwarts, including a rosemary bush and a culinary sage.
Despite all these disasters, I came back from the Heirloom Expo with some ideas:
- Spend a little less time on Facebook and a little more time in the garden.
- Come up with better raccoon fortifications.
- Take out stone fruit that isn’t performing (Kelly has wanted to do this for a long time but I’ve dragged my heels).
- Take better notes.
- Improve soil and restart a composting project.
- Come up with small metal cages to enclose fruit (I have a notion that involves 3D printing–more on this later).
How did your garden do this summer?