Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Organic Gardening: As the Garden Turns

Our garden has seemingly developed a princess complex about doing her job this season.

Tending to her needs this year has been more like starring in our own daytime TV drama rather than making a documentary about picking up a shovel and getting our hands dirty in an attempt to connect with the land and feed our family.

We're kind, thoughtful {albeit novice} gardeners; we treat our land well. We don't spray gunky things on her, and you can bet your bottom dollar we know she likes it when her the crops are rotated from year to year because, really, who wants to wear the same thing all of the stinkin' time anyway? We're even so considerate that not only do we add poop, errr fertilizer, to help replenish what's been taken, we add organic fertilizer {poop} to her beds.

So, clearly, our spoiled little garden should be sprouting plants that are seven feet tall and bearing the most beautiful, lush fruits -- NOT sporting something akin to gangrene alongside the bottom.


Let me start from the beginning of the drama.

First, a cold spring forced a delay in transplanting our plants into the ground, so most likely our little garden felt a little, um, forgotten. {Oh, the agony of a cool spring frosting hearts and soils everywhere.}

Then a long season of little to no rain coupled with intense sunshine and heat stunted all of our plants growth noticeably and scorched her delicate soil. {What an inconsiderate visitor, that few-week drought was, overstaying his welcome. Jerk.}

And then a monster storm barreled through our area wrecking havoc on our plants, twisting up our zucchini, pumpkin and squash like they were but little balls of yarn and scattering tiny round green tomatoes across the garden. {Well, you know, even princess gardens have far-off relative who come and stomp on everything and twist everything up every now and then.}

After each trauma, I'd clung to hope, telling myself that the epic-levels of dramatic events couldn't possibly continue to unfold as our garden turned and greened and grew. I consoled myself with thoughts of even a moderate harvest of ripe red tomatoes, thick, hearty zucchini and dark, green luscious peppers. Certainly, our garden knew how we'd lovingly cared for her, no?

But then?

Forty five tomatoes lost in one week ...

to ...

to ....

BLOSSOM ROT {the novice gardener wails into her pillow in the dark of the night}.

Like most first-year gardeners who've had a successful first year of gardening, I'd never heard of such an atrocity -- a fully, beautifully formed tomato from the top view -- on the verge of ripening to brilliant shades of pink or orange or red completely and utterly RUINED with thick dark crusty patches of black spreading across the bottom portion of the tomato.

The horror -- I, well, I cannot even describe it so pictures will have to do.

This was the only I could bare to take.

John poked around the internet for a bit and discovered that our garden's inconsiderate visitor who overstayed his welcome, Mr. Drought, was half to blame. The other part of the problem was not enough calcium in the soil.

{This is just very shocking -- especially after last year's -- our first year -- harvest.}

So for a week now, we've been working to take the drama out of the garden by giving her special mineral soaks, deep soil massages infused with nutrients and rejuvenating masks to help peel the top layer of unsightly blemishes like weeds -- total primadonna spa treatment, if you ask me.

Because apparently when you're tending to a princess, you cannot get away with anything less.

Or you pay for it royally.

{If you'd like to read about year one's adventures in organic gardening, I can promise you a bit of amusement.}