Mock ye, oh experienced gardeners, but d42 and I, not realizing the intense vegetable power of these creatures planted four zucchini and eight tomatoes. Thankfully, only 2 zucchini came up. So we, still not knowing what was coming, planted some squash next to them. Now we have a slow but insidious war on our hands.
We have both had some doing with gardening, as both our parents dabbled in home grown produce. We even both ended up having an adult figure in our lives who thought giving chickens as a present to small children is totally appropriate, so we have some livestock experience as well. However, this is the very first year that we have undertaken, all on our own, to grow us some veggies.
We live in Oregon now, a state where people grow things, make things, chop wood, climb mountains, and probably once knew the beef they are having for dinner by name. In fact, our apartment complex has set aside a plot of land to parcel out to its tenants based on the knowledge that of COURSE city dwellers will want to keep a vegetable garden out back. So we bought some fencing, tomato cages, sticks, manure, cultivators and other tools, and planted a bunch of seeds in early May.
Seeds are deceiving. You look at these tiny shit things and think to yourself, no WAY is this going to become something. Like, 1 in 10 chances this is going to survive and become a thing I can eat. So, instead of carefully planting a single seed or 3 a few inches away from another single seed, we just made a trough and poured a bunch in. We planted many things like that, and so this is what it ended up looking like, even after we realized our mistake and thinned ’em out.
Because you see, these hibernating little bastards, they want to LIVE. And they pretty much will. All of them. It’s not clear how many of them will grow to usable size, but damn it!100% of them will try their damnedest!
Another mistake we made was in planting 8 tomato bushes. Again, we just didn’t know. The seeds we planted and left to wind toward the sun in d42’s kitchen were so tiny and growing so slowly that we found them a good home and went out to buy some starters. Our garden seemed so empty, so we filled it up. Mostly with tomatoes. Again, knowing little about what to expect (see very top picture where the tomatoes appear perfectly innocent and contained).
We were excited when we saw the first few little tiny green tomatoes, but now our excitement has turned into fear, or at least a sense of uneasiness. Each of our plants has so many tomatoes on it that they have escaped their cages and are littering the walkways we tried to build into our garden schematic. Turns out, a single tomato plant can easily produce 20 lbs of tomatoes in one season. Did we mention we have 8? Tomato-gheddon… we await you.
While we nervously eyed the tomatoes, our zucchini very suddenly became prehistoric monsters. A single leaf is larger than my head and the plants also grew stalks to prop themselves up with, each stalk about the width of a child’s arm, with a huge leaf at the end of it. They grew more to battle with. And then grew spiky. Before we knew it, the fist sized flowers opened up, and zucchini-gheddon began. More and more flowers open every day, and the frigging zucchinn grow to store-size in less than 2 days. If not picked, they will be baseball bat sized, so daily we go out with large knives and cut us a few zuchini. Now the second plant has begun producing as well. And here we were, worried about tomatoes.
And don’t get me started on strawberries! Ok, too late, I’m already there. Those innocent berries, all delicious in your yogurt or whatever… ours weren’t particularly interested in producing berries. They wanted to colonize every possible clear patch of land instead. In the night, I imagine their shoots crawling along the ground, feeling around claymation style. How else could they cover so much ground by the time I’m out there to water them in the morning? I also imagine them testing the ground as if they were wielding little alien antennae, which i know they don’t, but the shoots only went along the clear fluffy dirt, and stopped short on their own when they hit the hard packed trail nearby.
Eventually we had to put a stop to the madness and start castrating the strawberry shoots. Now they have finally gotten on with the business of making us some berries, but instead of 3 plants we now have an interconnected web of about 10. Which took only about 3 weeks.
The vegetable kingdom seems fairly alien and pretty startling when you have no real idea of what to expect. Their perspective on the world is totally different. The fact that none of them can run away just means that they will put all their energy into outgrowing any given danger either by growing prolifically (see salad), growing spikes (see bok choi) or at least coating themselves in allergens (see tomatoes).
Gardening is also useful as a stimulant. You and I are internet addicts. Why else would you be here? We crave novelty, all of the time! Every day that I wander into the garden, I get that. Either more things grew that are going to be edible soon, something we picked has regenerated and then some (salad seems to thrive on being picked) or the plants have become wild overnight and are menacingly waving their branches around, reaching for more soil, beating down all nearby vegetation. And like the internet, any changes you make in your garden tend to be soon forgotten, undone by the world that is uninterested in your goals and continues its slo-mo battle whether you’re there or not.