I’ve run out of room in my backyard garden to grow vegetables. My grandfather would find this fact hard to believe if he were alive today.
He always had a HUGE vegetable garden, some flowers (the peonies he planted over 40 years ago still bloom in the late spring), and a perfectly manicured lawn that would take him over three hours to mow each week (plus many countless hours keeping weed free!)
Over the years the green, weed-free lawn shrunk dramatically. (My mother always said that grass is one of the most costly and frustrating perennials to grow…..She was right!)
The lawn was replaced with perennial gardens filled with flowers – selected by trial and error – for a Zone 5 garden. And slowly, over the years, flowers and shrubs have filled in the area of vegetable garden. The old oak and maple trees next door have also pushed their roots into my yard, making it nearly impossible to prep the soil for a new vegetable garden each summer. The tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and herbs were all moved to containers throughout the perennial gardens, but the results of this effort have varied over the past few years.
At the end of last summer, I vowed to stop trying to grow vegetables that I could buy at the Nashua Farmer’s Market on Sunday mornings. I rationalized that the money and time saved on water, fertilizers, and time would be better spent to support local farmers. (At the rate I was going, the few tomatoes that I did harvest cost at least $10 each!)
Then Peter stopped by the house. He grew up in my neighborhood. He knew my mother and other neighbors when they were all kids back in the 50s and 60s. My mother and I also knew his mother and aunts because they all had homes nearby. Peter shared info about the community garden at Greeley Park in Nashua. And even better, he offered to share some of his space in 2012.
I thought he had forgotten about our discussion last August. Then, out of the blue, he stopped by my house the Sunday morning this past Memorial Day weekend with news that the garden was ready to plant! Better yet, water would be free and he ’tilled the soil so it was ready for plants! Oh…AND there was A LOT of space – so much that this area is actually being tended to by my mom, two other neighbors, and me! We just had to get the seeds/plants and take care of our section.
To say that this summer’s gardening experience has been interesting is an understatement. Waking up at dawn to tend to a garden across the city at 6:30 am on the weekends is something I would have NEVER considered in the past. This summer, it just seems natural. (I have to go this early to avoid the full sun and heat of the day and to ensure that I have time to deal with the garden at my house later in the day!) The early mornings are the most peaceful at Greeley Park. Especially during these last few weeks of summer. I love that the sunflowers greet me whenever I visit the gardens at Greeley Park.
The jury is still out whether having two different gardens to tend is worth the effort. Some days, when all I can pick are blossom-rotted tomatoes, it seems more like work vs. a passion or hobby.
This morning was different. My mom and I took Grace out for a ride to visit the garden. This was a big deal because Grace is getting up there is age – she’s about 14 now and it’s more of an effort for her to get into and out of the car, so we have to plan her trips to include visits to the gas station and bank (both stops offer biscuits at the drive-thru!) Today’s trip included a garden visit.
There were no other people in any of the gardens and it was great to see an old dog be so excited to visit a new place and sniff so many new smells! She was ready to run down the path, as soon as she leapt out of the car!
Once we arrived to our ‘plot’, it was exciting to have so many things to pick since my last visit four days ago. Grace found a nice shady place to rest along the tomato path while I (almost) filled my harvest basket.
The cherry tomatoes are all ripening at once, which is good because we also have a bummer crop of seranno chili peppers – fresh salsa is definitely on the menu for later this week! The broccoli is still sending off enough shoots to fill a dinner plate each week and the eggplant (which were planted late) are all in bloom and look great for (hopefully) a late August harvest! Some things are not doing so well, but I won’t dwell on that today. With such a short gardening season in NH, I’ve found it more productive to focus on the good things.
That’s Gardening with Grace.