Oh… ugh! We came home from a two-week trip to an alarmingly over-exuberant garden. Most of the plants, largely natives, were robustly healthy. But even the vegetables, which weren’t healthy at all, were attempting a coup. Can you see that one pumpkin shoot disappearing into the hedge? It had made it through and was peeking into the neighbor’s garden!
Much as I would like to think otherwise, I don’t believe I’m meant to have a pumpkin patch in this garden. And yes – sigh – my husband told me so. I didn’t realize that ALL pumpkin patches are pumpkin FIELDS. And it’s not as if he ever grew pumpkins! And I might be exaggerating a little – about patch = field. Fact is, I’m just not sure. But that’s only two plants and they were sending roots down into the grass. And I had trimmed everything back to the raised bed before leaving.
We have three little pumpkins that will never grow to their lovely potential because I need that bed for my winter crops and, well, let’s face it, this just isn’t working out. I’m sure I would have had lots more pumpkins. Yes, it's the greatest pumpkin patch that never was. But I’d cut lots down while trimming -- repeatedly. It’s not that I treasure the little bit of grass so very much, but some minimal amount of walking space is necessary if I’m to care for the rest of the garden. I have no doubt that a talented gardener, possibly a square-foot gardener, would have those babies climbing trellises to the sky, but I just don’t have it in me. And, as I said, I need the space for more versatile crops. It’s time to sow salad greens, which we enjoy from fall and/or winter through spring.
In the name of full disclosure -- our garden really isn’t all tragedy, but it does offer enough drama to keep me on my toes – I will show you some of the scary stuff. Then, it’s off to the garden for me. I need to clear it before my brother sees it. He would be merciless with his teasing. Brothers are just that way.
I plot and I plan. I work under dangerous conditions. I am frequently under assault. At times, I might drop everything and run for cover. I strive to work towards the greater good.
Gardening in southeast Texas can be brutal. Heat, humidity, and potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes are problems for more than half the year and a dangerous combination in summer. That’s to say nothing of fire ants and other biting, stinging insects. Snakes, too, although they only make a rare appearance in my little garden. Poison ivy and oak are common and birds sow both generously.
Despite some uncomfortable conditions, I feel very protective of the wild in my garden. It’s important to know friend from foe, for example, venomous from nonvenomous snakes and even then, it’s often not necessary to engage. As for the bugs, it is not fine with us to hurt the good with the bad. Pesticides are banned. So are herbicides. Our beds, whether food or ornamental, are organic. And while our garden isn’t entirely native, we do have plenty of native plants that please the local wildlife as well as ourselves.
While every garden is different, they all offer challenges, pleasures, time with nature. Much like people, they have their good days and bad days, high seasons and low; and they can all be fun and beautiful if you love them enough.