ordered chaos and garden zen

"three sisters" : squash, beans and corn

"three sisters" : squash, beans and corn

We had the hottest and driest June on record.  And my garden is showing it.  The unexpected heat and sun has made my garden go – well – completely bananas.

One thing we have learned this year is to have faith.  In the garden, and in life, a little trust that things will work out goes a long way.  We doubted that early this spring – suspecting our leggy, jaundice looking squash transplants were destined for the compost heap, we planted more.  And there you have it.  My sidewalk in the backyard has been nearly engulfed.  There will be plenty of pumpkin pie this thanksgiving, we’ll put it that way.

sugar pumpkins, black beauty squash and lemon cukes taking over our sidewalk

sugar pumpkins, black beauty squash and lemon cukes taking over our sidewalk

We planted way too many tomatoes.  Thinking we would have only partial germination we planted 9 of each variety and ended up with over 100 viable seedlings.  I didn’t have the heart to throw them away, so what I couldn’t give away, I plunked in the ground.  And now slowly I am realizing – hmm – even if I only get one tomato per plant per day during harvest time – that’s 50 tomatoes a day!  I am already setting up my own little CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) list in my office building downtown.  I’ll be hawking heirloom tomatoes for 5 bucks a pound outside Starbucks come September.  Just you wait.

30 of our 50 heirloom tomato plants (yes, 50!)

30 of our 50 heirloom tomato plants (yes, 50!)

Our attempt at the traditional “three sisters” planting of beans, squash and corn has become a massive jungle that I could probably camp out under – the poor corn barely hanging on under the weight of the relentless beans and the brutish black beauty zucchini.  We are eating the zucchini – baby courgettes really, as fast as we can, but I’m pretty certain we will be that couple by the end of the summer – you know, the ones forcing squash on every family member, coworker and neighbour they can.  We are investigating the possibility of zucchini pickles.  Waste not, want not?  Right?

So, maybe we overdid it in a couple areas.  We could have planted a few less tomatoes and probably could have gotten away with only 1 zucchini plant . . . But the glorious thing about all this chaos is that it forces you to just BE.  There are only two of us, and we are not full-time urban farmers.  We have demanding day jobs and well – lives.  We can’t dedicate every waking hour to hacking back the zucchini amazon that sprouted up overnight along the back fence.  We have learned that our garden, for the most part, will look after itself.  Life always finds a way.  We’ve lost a cabbage or two, and the aphids are annoying some of my herbs – but they are all sorting things out on their own.  We take the losses as the messages that they are – it’s too hot in the front for the cabbage and the herbs need a drink.  As long as we shake hands with the garden every day, water it, prune the tomatoes and pull the weeds the rest will work out just fine.

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