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connecting food and families in Columbus Ohio

A Most Disappointing Gardening Season

dry garden august 2012This is my garden. My dry, stunted, disappointing garden.

The year started with a heat wave in mid-spring that dried out the peas just as they started to produce pods. The same temperatures caused lettuce to bolt before the leaves were big enough to eat. A few windy storms knocked off many fruit tree blooms.

Just when I had reset the backyard raised beds with Swainway seedlings, the front yard fell prey to a public works project. Workers first destroyed a peach tree and dug up an eight foot section of the tree yard to run a gas supply line along our street. A month later, a four foot swatch also lost its grass to run the residential line to a neighbor's house. Part of our alley raspberry patch was ripped apart for reasons I cannot deduce. The gas company was entirely within their rights to do such work and made attempts to replace what was removed but it hurt to watch parts of our yard torn to pieces.

Then the heat came. Days and days of hundred degree highs and very little rain led to the hottest July on record and a well publicized drought. The temperatures damaged plant growth and made us all seek shelter in the air conditioning rather than tend the garden.

So now it is mid-August when I'm used to being inundated with sexy tomatoes and bountiful peppers. Instead, my plants are shrivelled beyond repair. Where usually there are weighty colorful fruit arching the stems, the only bent branches this year are those that sustained damage in the few strong storms we received.

The blame for the garden failure can not entirely be placed on the weather; between cleaning and vacating for house showings and fatigue from chronic sinus pain I simply haven't made the time to stake and water plants. I did take an hour recently to pull up the worst of the tomatoes and plant fall greens to try to coax some food from the soil.

hummingbird in garden

Bright Spots

To buoy the feeling of failure, I look at the few successes of the year. Our rosemary plant and fig tree are thriving. We harvest a handful of beans a day. Smiling sunflowers that planted themselves from bird seed attract equally sunny goldfinches. And 'our' mama hummingbird visits the feeder many times a day, defending it from other females.

My thoughts are already turning to next year when my family will hopefully start a big new garden in a new house. But I cannot escape thinking about the farmers who count on growing food for their livelihood. I remain disappointed at my efforts, but pleased that I have the luxury of spending my money at farmers' markets to hopefully ease local farm losses this year.

How is your garden growing?