If you know me personally, you know that I am a gardener. I like it so much that I started a YouTube channel about it. Gardening is a lot like my yoga, when yoga is not my yoga…if that makes any sense. There’s something liberating about being pissed off and walking outside to pull some crabgrass out of the ground. Yeah, I can’t make that phone call I’ve been putting off, but this patch of wood sorrel is going to regret showing it’s face around here. There’s also a great sense of satisfaction to growing your own food. I’ve had many meals this summer that pretty much only cost me the price of a seed packet and salt and pepper. Yeah, I know I spent a lot of money on potting soil, compost, seeds, plants, etc, but I like to think that this hobby is at least kind of paying for itself in food.
It’s that time of year in Arkansas where is too dang hot, and I’m losing the battle against the jungle of grass that’s trying to reclaim the lawn I so meticulously tilled up by hand a few months ago. Honestly, when I look out at the garden, my previous sense of accomplishment and pride is tinged with embarrassment.
The powdery mildew is bound and determined to take all the squash and pumpkins. The grass is so tall around the watermelon, I only know they are there based on memory.
The cabbage looper worms and harlequin beetles turned my big beautiful collard plant into sticks.
The birds and squirrels have gotten to the sunflower seeds before me every time.
I’m two years in the battle to eliminate all crab grass and bermuda grass, but I’m pretty sure this war is going to last me another 100 years. That dang bermuda grass will outlive us all.
The luffa gourd vine has completely entangled itself with the purple hull peas, sweet corn, and sunflowers to make this tangled beast of plants I affectionately call: purpleluffacornsunflower bush. Oh, and I haven’t seen an actual gourd yet. Right now I’m growing a monster vine that’s bound and determined to consume everything in it’s path.
And yet, there are successes.
I’m picking about a pint of cherry and grape tomatoes everyday. The peppers are doing great. The purple hull peas have been producing so well I had to freeze a few quarts for later. I ate every single one of the potatoes and onions I’ve harvested. I’ve been lucky enough to get to eat, strawberries, swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, collards, cucumbers, tomatoes, jalapenos, eggplant, and sweet peppers all from my own labor (with a little help from mother nature, of course).
The successes are what keep me going. When I harvested about 40 ping pong ball sized onions this year, I was happy. Last year, every single one of them died, and I figured small onions had to taste better than no onions. When I was drowning in cucumbers this year, I felt grateful. Last year, they all got a fungus and died. Then, I only picked two tomatoes before both plants succumbed to blight. Now, I’m eating tomatoes everyday. This year I had enough to fill a bowl and take to the yoga studio. Do you know what’s even better than eating your own produce? Giving it to other people to eat.
I still look outside and have a slight anxiety attack over the sheer amount of chaos going on in the garden, but I remember how far I’ve come. I can still celebrate my successes. I can reassure myself that it will get cooler. There’s still time. And most of all, don’t mind the weeds.