When I was six years old* the kids in our neighborhood would spend summer evenings together. After supper, everyone would meet outside and groups would form and dissolve as more kids joined. It was exciting to be running around with the older kids and I have memories of playing hide-and-go-seek, of drawing on someone’s white stucco house with rolled up lilac leaves (those chlorophyll designs didn’t fade all summer), and of squeezing through back hedges to raid gardens. The goal was to grab something and run before we were caught. The most orderly gardens, with their easy-to-locate rows of carrots, peas and strawberries, sustained the most damage.
Sometimes we found ourselves in completely wild, overgrown jungles. Usually the vegetables were no longer recognizable because they had gone to seed and fallen over. There were weeds everywhere, and lots of completely out-of-control flowers. We tripped in the long grass and found things like empty wine bottles and abandoned glasses, damp books that had been left outside for days, and bowls of wilted lettuce. Those gardens were a little scary but had a mysterious draw; they were the ones that we returned to again and again all summer.
After returning from a vacation last week, I was shocked to see my garden looking very similar to those that I remembered from childhood. Before leaving in April, I had spent a lot of time weeding, planting and trimming, and when I left my garden was in great shape. Luckily, The Man did a lot of watering while I was away, and when I returned the fava beans had grown about three feet and were starting to fall over, the potatoes were up, the arugula had exploded and was covering up the lettuce seedlings, and the kale had gone to seed. The branches of the trees and shrubs were blocking the walkways. And the weeds were completely out of control. Every morning and evening since, I have been in the back yard, trying to get things under control.
I’ve been removing the tops of plants that have bolted (spinach and brussel sprouts) and am trying to harvest some of the leaves before pulling them up. I have been thinning the arugula and lettuce, removing the overgrown leaves of the chard, and staking the peas. I covered the potatoes and planted more lettuce, basil and cress. The cilantro has been the big winner so far, and I have been making and freezing cilantro/walnut pesto. I have also been taking note of which trees and branches are not thriving (the white lilac and the Japanese snowbell are unlikely to make it) and will call Dave to remove them.
Okay, that is enough of a break for now. Happy Hippy Gardening!!!
(*1972, Wetaskawin Alberta)