The Farm Report ~ by Sam

Okay, so we don’t have a farm.   We do have a bountiful, beautiful, garden in which, thanks to our fabulous Southern California weather, we have been able to grow an abundance of vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers.  Our garden has produced enough in the past few months to not only feed us and allow us to put up jars of tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, vegetable soup and tomato soup, but also to trade with others in the area for items we do not grow.  If I recall correctly, we have traded guava, zucchini, peppers, lettuce and herbs for oranges, apples, tangerines, lemons and peaches.  That’s not a bad haul.

Nevertheless, as Ecclesiates tells us, there is “a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted.”  For us, the time for uprooting was this weekend.  Shane did all of that hard work for me, while I ran the kids to band practice and did a little grocery shopping (and had my car hit in the parking lot…but that’s a whole other story).

Our zucchini and tomatoes were wonderfully prolific, while they were.  At a certain point, our zucchini almost died, then appeared to recover, started to produce lovely little zucchini…which promptly shriveled and died.  The plant looked healthy and green, but it was no longer producing viable fruit, and was robbing the remaining plants of water and nutrients.  The tomatoes ~ oh!  the tomatoes!  They were glorious!  In salads, sauces, stews, soups, caprese, on sandwiches, fried while still green, canned for later…they really were wonderful tomatoes.  Unfortunately, the leaf-legged bugs agreed.  We tried everything to get rid of the nasty little things.  We don’t like to use chemicals on our food (or in our environment, for that matter), so we tried safe, natural alternatives first (soapy water, soapy water with hot pepper, picking them off by hand).  When our home remedies did not work, we tried a couple of sprays approved for use in organic gardening.  With every try, the bugs would be chased away for a day, and then they’d be back, with reinforcements.  We cut back all of the dead branches, chased off the bugs, washed down tomatoes and leaves, sprayed with our organic-gardening approved sprays, picked as many tomatoes as we possibly could…all to no avail.  I want to thank Justice, who, knowing how phobic I am when it comes to bugs, did a lot of the picking during this time.  She is a real trooper, and saved a lot of tomatoes.  There were still so many tomatoes on the vine that we just couldn’t give up, so, in a last-ditch effort to save them, we took the plunge and sprayed a regular old garden pest spray.  I don’t think doing so saved a single tomato.  These tenacious little bugs just would not go away, and there were just too many for us to pick off and dispatch of by hand.  Last week, we finally looked at the garden and admitted to ourselves that we had gotten as many tomatoes out of our plants as would this season.

While I appreciated Shane doing all the work ~ and I knew it needed to be done ~ I have to admit, I was a little sad to come home and see this:
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Then, I got to thinking.  We got a lot out of our garden this year.  We ate tons of healthy, homegrown food, and we spent lots of time working outdoors with the plants.  We got exercise, sunshine and nourishment ~ for our bodies and our souls.  Our garden has been a great source of food (saving us money), has helped us connect with others in our community, and a wonderful stress management tool for me.

I decided to catalogue what we do have, instead of dwelling on what we don’t.  It needs a good weeding, to be sure, but there are still plants in our garden.  Only the tomatoes and zucchini are gone.  We still have:

ImageGreen Peppers

ImageJalapenos

ImageFennel (yes, yes, I need to weed!)

ImageA little bit of basil that was hiding under one of the tomatoes.

Imageand a few rogue carrots that we really didn’t expect to grow, considering how off-season we planted them.

We also have marigolds and petunias, but I really need to rescue them from the surrounding weeds, a.k.a. “grass,” before I can photograph them.  Poor things.  Where we live, we find that subscribing to the “weeds as grass” method of lawn maintenance saves us tons of water, but leads to the “grass as weeds” problem in our vegetable garden, as is evidenced above.

Our herbs continue to thrive:

ImageLavender

ImageMint

ImageCinder block full o’ thyme

There are tiny kumquats on our little baby kumquat tree:

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and tons of hard little green guava just waiting to be beautiful, juicy guava:

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There are even a couple of lovely pomegranates hanging over the back wall from our neighbours’ yard:

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So, all in all, I would say we are doing just fine.  I am starting to look in to what (and when) I can start planting for next growing season.  Looks like we have a lot of wonderful options.

In the end, maybe we didn’t lose plants so much as we gained space to put in new plants.  After all, ” There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven,” right?

Perhaps, it is now my time to sit on the porch, watching the birds.  It will be time to plant again soon enough.

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