This summer’s garden is turning out to be a bit of a dud–at least for my own personal food consumption. On the other hand, the bees are having an absolute hay day, rolling around drunk in the sunflowers covered in pollen. And that makes me happy. This year’s garden could be summed up in one word: Wild.
The problem with working multiple jobs, even though they are all part-time, is my own personal time has suffered to the point of garden neglect. All sorts of things came up in the garden boxes that I didn’t plant–wildflowers, ornamental flowers, more rhubarb, where did that tomato plant come from?? The spring garden was great–we began eating spinach in March due to a mild winter and early spring. Lettuce, chives, snow peas, garlic scapes galore. Then work got in the way. Things were growing, but I was not able to harvest. Cilantro? Went to seed. Carrots? They began to flower. Dill? The bees were enjoying the flowers as well. My radicchio that overwintered? It grew to 4 feet tall, then set several hundred gorgeous periwinkle blue flowers that the bees went crazy for–how could I rip it out to give my artichoke the room they wanted? I couldn’t.
One of my jobs required near full-time hours in early July, right when the garlic was ready to harvest. The result was very little garlic was harvested; the garlic that did make it out of the ground came out late, with few protective bulb wrappers left intact. And because I’d been busy earlier in the spring, when it was a good time to weed, I let the garlic get outcompeted by things like cilantro, cosmos, dill, yarrow, and bindweed, so much of my garlic was small. I’m actually okay with everything but the bindweed, but I should have prioritized where in the garden these herbs and flowers landed and took root, keeping them out of my garlic beds and thus preventing my garlic from developing nice, fat bulbs. But I didn’t (the bees were loving the flowers, after all!) and I paid the ultimate price–a garlic crop failure.
Ah, such is the fickle life of a gardener. If it’s not the weather, it’s the weeds. If it’s not bad timing of a job or vacation, it’s your heart that gets in the way and lets the flowers take over so you can feed the bees, not yourself. But you know what? I have seen several different species of bees in my garden this summer! I find that very cool, given the plight of the bees these days. And there are tons of ladybugs hiding in the wild chaos as well. So I guess I’ll be happy with my CSA share this summer and try to eek a few things from the garden this fall: spinach, more snow peas, arugula, and hopefully some carrots and potatoes. I am getting a few artichokes coming on now, though nothing like last summer. Again, the artichokes had to fight for sunlight, space, and water like everything else, plus we didn’t get a really hot spell early in the summer like we did last year that caused the artichokes to explode with happiness. But this one is looking quite nice:
And NEXT year, something will be different, allowing me more time to spend in my garden. I’m not sure exactly what that will be yet, but something will be different.