Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Garden anxiety

This time last year we were eating cukes, zukes, patty pans and possibly even beans out of our garden. This year, plants are still tiny, half my seeds didn't germinate, and I only just now noticed we have fruit on our tomato plants (nothing ripe yet, of course).

I find I've been experiencing actual anxiety over our garden this year. We had a long, cold wet spring (it rained on the 4th of July, something almost unheard of here), and so far summer seems to be progressing in fits and starts, weather-wise. Everything is late, and some things haven't come up at all, despite repeated sowings (I don't think we'll have any onions this year, which bums me out).

We planted a lot: potatoes of various varieties and colors, basil (not doing well yet, but I'm hopeful), carrots and greens in pots this year (they seem to do better than when I planted them in the ground, plus slug control is easier in pots), tomatoes, cukes, zukes, patty pans, delicata squashes, asparagus beans and bush beans. Oh yes, and strawberries, which we planted as a ground cover and hope will produce a bumper crop next year. So lots of food potential, but no actual food yet.

The poor growing season is definitely impacting our grocery budget, as I'm having to buy veggies and fruits that in other years we'd be eating out of the yard by now. But it's not the financial burden that occupies my thoughts. What's interesting to me is how my mindset has completely altered. I watch the weather reports now with the eye of a grower, and when I hear about hot weather coming I'm happy, even though I hate heat (dry Oregon heat notwithstanding). I track the sunlight and note where it falls in the yard each day. My hatred for the non-native hemlock on my neighbor's property grows, as it continually shades out parts of my yard that were formerly sunny. My thoughts are constantly wandering out to my garden, as I take breaks from my symphony work.

I'm just a nice Jewish girl who grew up in Los Angeles. I never gave any thought to weather or rainfall or soil temps. I mean, there is no weather to speak of in LA; it's always 72 and hazy. I was an urban kid in most senses, although I loved being outside and felt an affinity for forests and oceans from the time I could walk.

Now, although I continue to live in a city, I've become much more attuned to the vagaries of growing. My thoughts and mindset are that of a food producer, of someone whose fortunes are, albeit in a small personal way, tied to the land and the seasonal cycles. I like the change, and I love how growing food has given me a personal stake in, and attachment to, the patch of dirt in the city in the state on the planet I call home.