It started out so well. Excitedly digging up the dirt and planting little tomatoes and strawberries and broccoli and other favorites into my small and forgotten backyard garden. Through May and June I checked the plants everyday, stared at them and really enjoyed watching them grow and tending to whatever they seemed to need. Then the heat wave and the drought really kicked in - and you know what, those little plants had more willpower than I did. Getting out there every day and watering and doing whatever I could to keep these plants alive just got to be so much. I'm not proud of it. I can understand just a smidgen of how it must feel to be a farmer in this heat, but of course I have the luxury of having this garden be just a hobby. That's probably a key part of the reason why I had a near total crop failure. Let me go through the ugly details.
The strawberries - I heard these things were easy enough to grow. That's true enough. I really couldn't tell you how they tasted because I don't speak squirrel or rabbit language. Just when they were getting ripe, I thought I'd let them go just one more day and poof! They were gone.
The potatoes - I was really excited when I saw the plants shooting out of the ground. I had just a half dozen plants. They looked good, then they fell over but still looked fine. By the time I learned about "hilling" it was a litte too late. Then when it got really hot I decided to see if I had any potatoes in the ground because I heard potatoes don't like warm soil. All in all I got about a dozen little potatoes. Maybe voles got to them?
The broccoli - the few plants I had were getting eaten up by these little green caterpillar-like animals that hide underneath the leaves. I successfully fought them off and then I saw some broccoli crowns starting to grow and got excited. But the crowns got sorta brown and odd shaped. They just didn't look right and it was about that time that I gave up.
The tomatoes - I had a few different varieties growing, the most promising being Sungolds. At one point I had maybe 30 little green tomatoes growing and I was getting excited. Some little animal enjoyed some of them, I did manage to snag a few, but the plants really wilted in the heat and dry conditions. Actually, the real issue is that I was the one who wilted.
The zucchini - This plant never took off. Got flowers but no zucchini. Died of sunstroke.
The herbs - they did/doing pretty well although I can't seem to figure out how to get a high yield of basil. I got confused when I saw the basil plants start to flower (I think that's what it was)...should I cut them off or let them grow or what. I looked it up online and couldn't really figure it out. It was about that time that my CSA came through with professionally grown basil and my few little plants began to matter a lot less.
The bottom line - I learned that it is really hard to grow fruit and vegetables well. There's a lot of trial and error and an enormous value in the accumulated knowledge that farmers build as they work their land over decades. I also learned that it is really hard to get yourself out there every single day of a long and hot summer...I sort of gave up during that long stretch of 100+ degree weather. Also, I'm really quite privileged that I don't have to rely on my own farm for food. On another note, I learned that I really enjoy being out there and keeping a vegetable garden but that I have to try harder and learn more about how to do it well. Next year.