Monday, April 04, 2011

Mood Swings

One day, we're having everything-abloom weather, when the air is syrupy with orange blossoms and every little weed and vegetable springs out in galaxies of flowers.

The next, we're lighting the fireplace, telling ourselves its the last fire of the year, so we better enjoy it. It hasn't been the last fire.

A day goes like this lately. I come home, throw on ripped jeans, sports bra, t-shirt, boots, and my well-worn gloves, and do something difficult in the garden, like turning the fava beans into the soil or rearranging the compost or manually mowing, because that's how it gets done around here. I feel good, my endorphins are up, I've made change. And isn't that one of the great pleasures of the garden, creating that physical change, so tangible? Every day, I can say, "I did that. I made that happen." (That is a pleasure that does not exist in my career, though there are many other joys.)

Then the ugly happens. I bend down to see the damage, and the damage is great. Slugs have hit so hard this year; all the rain this winter must have led to some sweet sluggy loving. The sowbugs are no better. There are armies of these rolly-pollies that curl into their armored bodies whenever I approach. The slugs pull in their antennae and wait out the danger. If I hold still enough, sowbugs and slugs resume duty and start munching again. Every seed, every tender or struggling plant, is consumed; therefore, direct seeding, my preferred means of planting, has become an impossibility.

Just when I work myself nearly to frustration frenzy, something reminds me to look away from the carnage. Perhaps it is a hummingbird buzzing the lemon tree or a dove flapping to a floppy landing, the way they do. And when this happens, I can see what is growing well. While a couple struggling varieties of garlic are slug-eaten nubs, the rest are mighty and growing mightier.

The tomatoes are in the ground. I'm so hungry for tomatoes I could begin munching on the leaves like a tomato worm, so just seeing the plants, being able to smell them as I walk by fills me with that frantic anticipation: tomatoes are coming, tomatoes are coming.

Sitting in little pots on my porch, waiting to go into their own bed, the eggplants and peppers are plugging along. Once they go into the ground next week, they'll go gangbusters.

Already, I can taste summer. I can taste the bruschettas, the grilled eggplant, the roasted sweet peppers, the fresh chiles in everything. So much good is on its way.

And as for all those beans and other sweeties that my enemies are consuming, they're not lost, not really. I've started a second batch of everything in six-packs far away from the battlefield. They're safe for now, and growing far enough along until they've got strength to fight their own war when I put them in the ground.

While there's all this shifting and growing and fighting and starting, there's also ending, and good sweet endings. It's harvest time for sugar snaps and purple sprouting broccoli, and every night, in the early spring window while they last, we eat our generous fill of both.

Overall, things are swinging my way.


To see what others across the planet are harvesting this week, stop by Daphne's Dandelions for Harvest Monday.


Daphne Gould said...

As you anticipate the tomatoes, I'm anticipating the peas that I planted over the weekend. I can't wait for the first peas to be ripe.

michelle said...

Sorry to hear that the slugfest continues, bleah! But you're right, in spite of the depredations of various garden pests there are still quite a few things that are thriving. It seems like every time I walk through the garden something has burst into a frenzy of growth, it's such a pleasure to see. But now you've got me longing for all those wonderful summer vegetables and my plants aren't even in the ground yet. I see that we are both trying Cheiro Recife peppers this year, only your plant is much further along than my little runty plant.

Christina said...

Daphne: Don't we always want what is just around the corner so badly?

Michelle: I wish you were closer. I have 11 Cheiro Recife plants, much more than I'll need. I wish I could just teletransport one to you. I'm short, however, on some of the more every-day peppers. I guess I'll just make Cheiro Recife and every-day pepper. I can't wait to try it. I'm so sorry to hear about your rust--I tried to post on your site yesterday, but for some reason the site wouldn't let me. That garlic rust must be driving you up the walls. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

In all the excitement the reality of the micro nasties brings us down and teaches us humility.

Last Spring I used plastic milk bottles to protect plants like Pumpkin and Zucchini which was hammered the season prior. It seemed to work a treat. Don't ask me why, but it did.

Online gardening is messing with my seasons. Just as your starting I'm pulling out the final vestiges of my warm season crops.

I have a great deal planned for the garden in winter. A re-design is imminent. And when the temperature goes all pear-shaped and my hands freeze I shall look to your blog and fill my needs with a bit of veggie garden porn.

Anonymous said...

Not the last fire of the season, not even the next to the last fire of the season. Man, it's cold outside. (My garlic is TALL this year.)

the good soup said...

I have bittersweet feelings reading your post.

Bitter, because I'm thousands and thousands of miles away from my garden in Australia, and my body is yearning to touch down on the soil to dig into my late summer beds, as this is the time when the planting can really begin, because there aren't quite as many grasshoppers about.

And sweet, because it's always a relief to hear about other gardeners' trials amongst the carnage of a thriving garden.

Actually, both of those points sound quite bitter of me, don't they?!

Cheers, and wonderful to read you, as always, Angela

Rosalyn Manesse said...

What great photos, and I can almost taste those veges. I used to have a garden like that, and the squashes whould climb the fence.

Christina said...

Wholelarderlove: I look forward to hearing about your redesign plans, and all that excitement about sharing property with your friends is getting my heart racing!

AH: Ooooh, I hope you have a fantastic harvest.

Angela: Naw, not really bitter, just real.

Rosalyn: Your garden sounds lovely.

AJK said...

I'm having slug explosions here too! It must be the crazy weather. I've lost so many directly seeded plants, I want to start everything in pots. But taproot types just don't like pots. I had a crop failure for garlic this year. I'm so sad about that.

Christina said...

AJK: I'm so sorry about your garlic crop failure. I hope next year is better for you.