MY GARDEN IS BOTH A LABOR OF LOVE AND WORK OF ART
As I design my garden each fall and spring, I start with rotating my vegetables on a dirt canvas that needs to be recharged with compost and organic fertilizers. These provide the ‘background’ of a work of art that may or may not be attractive to the eye as well as to the taste.
This past summer with its drought and early fall with its continuous rain were very discouraging to my creative spirit and motivation. I did put in a garden which involved the dirty and sweaty labor of cutting down and pulling up tall weeds and clumps of grass. Nothing grew well at first and many vegetables were yellowish because of the wet soil, high water table and low nitrogen caused by the leaching and decomposing process.
However to my surprise, the garden seemed to come alive with growth in early November. The tomatoes grew to over 5’ tall and put on a lot of fruit. I picked a ripe tomato on December 9th. The squash grew fast producing several yellow and green fruit. The cucumbers bloomed even as the weather cooled. The Jalapeno and Banana peppers became loaded. The broccoli sprung up to two feet tall. The bush beans were covered with white blooms. The pole beans on the pole/wire fence trellis that I redesign every year had vines growing across the top fence between the two rows. The Chinese cabbage was on its way to growing over 16” tall with one head being 16” wide. The turnip and mustard greens that were yellowish turned a dark green and are delicious. The lettuce and spinach required a second planting where every seed seemed to germinate. We eat the thinnings. The English and Sugar Snap Peas are growing on their wire fence. On December 5th, I planted 500 onion plants out of 3 bunches that supposedly had 60 plants per bunch. We are now eating Rio Red Grapefruit. The two trees had over 150 fruit. The seeded Clementines are sweet with over 200 fruit on the tree. The rest of the citrus trees are ripening providing Christmas like ornaments.
Melanie and Nina from Spray-N-Grow came out in mid-November to take photographs of the garden and citrus orchard. Melanie took a long look and said it was all beautiful. They wanted my wife, Harvette, to model a product standing in front of the multi-fruited Calamondin orange tree. While we were gone to spend Thanksgiving with our son in Houston, a neighbor came over to put out food for the birds. Her mother came with her and marveled at the beauty of the garden. She also enjoyed some turnip greens. Other neighbors and friends who passed by the orchard and garden area viewed from Loop 1781 noticed and commented on how attractive they are.
The ripening of the garden and orchard, the admiration of friends and neighbors, and the enjoyable taste of salads, squash, beans, turnip/mustard greens with Jalapeno cornbread, plus the grapefruit and Clementines for breakfast are fulfilling mood changers of satisfaction in the present and hope for the future.