Our fall kitchen garden has been producing beautifully. I'm so excited! My husband built a raised vegetable bed for me right in the middle of our small back yard where it gets full sun. For the first time in four years, we have French breakfast radishes on our table. Those are my favorites; I love the tops, too. They're spicy and delicious sauteed in olive oil with onions and garlic and a squeeze of lemon. They're also good cooked with other greens. But I digress. Also in the box are kale and Swiss chard, which are coming up nicely. I sowed lettuce seeds too soon; the weather turned warm again and the soil was definitely too warm. I'm not sure if now I should sow more seeds or wait to see if any seedlings come up. In another area of the garden, fronting a hedge, fava bean plants are shooting up. Our few tomato plants are growing well, with a cherry variety producing daily. Another tomato plant -- I'm not sure what kind -- threatens to overtake a small lemon tree! I'm not too worried about the tree, at least not yet. Hot peppers are producing generously, too, although they are plagued by a pest of some sort. Some herbs are done for the year, others just getting started. As I had anticipated, the lawn guys have not been kind to my seedlings.
I really oppose having these guys stomp my garden, but we didn't hire them for my sake. It gives my busy husband a break and for that reason, I must try to get along with them. They're the best lawn service we've ever had and, thanks to me, they're also the most expensive. I actually told the owner of the small company that he doesn't charge enough. They're timely, immaculate, efficient, but just a little too helpful. I've asked them repeatedly to leave the beds untouched. We pay them a lot to do less, but they forget. The other day, I actually caught one of the guys setting an electric edger to my parsley seedlings! He assumed they were weeds and was trying to do me a favor. But you're not supposed to do that even with weeds, much less someone's garden plants. I will add that they've also been awfully hard on my day lilies, apparently assuming that they're nutsedge. Again, chopping the tops is not the way to go!
They're not gardeners. So long as they keep our hedges and edges looking good, our grass clipped neatly, and blow our patios so that my husband doesn't have to, I will stop trying to turn them into gardeners. I'll probably stick with flowers in the borders and plant my parsley crop in a raised bed. They will, however, have to find a way to stop cutting back my bulbs.
My flowers aren't doing nearly as well as the vegetables -- a first! Even the roses aren't looking as sprightly as I would expect. I am probably being very demanding. Many were planted just this year and I've moved them around quite a bit. Like all living things, plants need time and good growing conditions to thrive.
One of the best aspects about our fall garden is that we can enjoy quality time in it. The heat and bugs of summer are behind us. Be it snow, unyielding high temps, or absolutely glorious weather, the most wonderful thing about gardens is that connection between garden and gardener.
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. 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.