Eeek! I know I have only myself to blame, myself and the weather. The weather really does bear responsibility. None of it matters, of course. It is what is is.
It's well-known that I boycott my garden during the worst of summer's heat. By the second part of July throught August, I'm off-duty. This year was no exception, but September and October were unusual. Hurricane Harvey swept through our area in September, while my husband and I were on a long weekend trip that extended to a week. By the time we got home, there was so much to do that I couldn't go out in the garden. We were leaving again within a few weeks. Before October was upon us, we were off again, to be gone for three weeks. Our garden wasn't forgotten, but it was neglected. As a good friend told me, "You're a smart one!" Ha!
Have you ever seen anything so disgraceful? In all my years of gardening and with a much, much larger piece of property, I have NEVER had a planting bed look like that in the photo above. Gulp. The weeds are a tight bunch of the worst sort -- Bermuda grass, nutsedge, and crabgrass (least worrisome of the three). They could not have been completely avoided because our backyard is on the golf course - Bermuda grass heaven - nor can they be completely eradicated. But it never has to get to this outlandish level. Removal was one tiresome task.
Was -- did you catch that? My husband and I toiled at the bed for over an hour, removing as much as we could. We had to stop just short of finishing, which is why I'm not posting a before and after just yet. Did I mention fire ants? There was a huge bed of fire ants in the bed. My husband doused it repeatedly with boiling water. The one corner of the bed looked like a brownish-red sea of dead ants.
The whole garden is in a similar state. Tomorrow, I should be able to finish weeding the raised garden bed. That purging should hold for a few days and give me time to move onto other areas of my poor, woebegone garden. I'll post before and after shots until the worst of the weeds and overgrowth have been tamed. If anyone has any before and afters to share or any advice, welcome!
Really, I'm excited about the opportunity to spend more time out there. When I mentioned to our kids that it seemed impossible for such a small garden to get so out of control, they corrected me.
"You don't have a small garden, Mom," our son objected. "You might have a small yard, but you have a large garden."
I like that.
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.