Monday, August 8, 2016

Blueberries and Eggplants and More, Oh My!

Three years ago my grandson and I planted a blueberry bush in my yard. It survived each season, barely hanging on. No blueberries, however, until this year. Check out the picture below, our total 2016 blueberry harvest. I can only hope this is a precursor of things to come. Next year blueberry muffins and blueberry pancakes for everyone!

I plant seeds and seedlings in a tiny triangle of a vegetable patch in our backyard. This year cherry tomatoes are prolific, larger varieties sparse. 

Here is my first ripe large tomato, 
although large in this case is a relative term.

When my younger son was home our garden thrived. Zucchini always proved prolific. Eggplant never succeeded, one meager eggplant sprouting, only one or two plants producing anything in a given year.

My son left home, I was otherwise engaged, hub had no interest in gardening. We abandoned the vegetable garden.

Then we moved. A small barren patch in our yard tempted. A couple of years ago I once again donned garden gloves and picked up a spade.

Fast forward to this year.

Eggplant and healthy green leaves!
My eggplant seedlings, for the first time ever, flourished. 
Ironically I am not an eggplant fan, but grilled eggplant is a diet staple this summer.

The biggest harvest is yet to come, timed perfectly for the week hub and I are out of town. No doubt we will return home to overripe, rotting tomatoes, eggplant, and green peppers (only one small one picked so far).

 Oh well. Hub is a Bronx boy, more comfortable with concrete than compost. My thumb is a very light green at best, so coaxing copious amounts of vegetables from our piece of earth is not part of my skill set.
 But I find working in the garden, planting, pruning, weeding, harvesting, fertilizing (organic fertilizer only) therapeutic:

It is quiet – as long as the neighbors’ landscapers are not mowing and pruning with earsplitting equipment, another neighbor is not blaring music, and kids are not playing a noisy ball game in the street.

I get fresh air and exercise and sometimes lots of bug bites.

Plants thrive as long as our resident squirrel keeps his distance.

It is encouraging watching seedlings flourish and mature assuming plants and produce do not wilt from an extended hot, dry period.

On the other hand it is discouraging when –
plants shrivel and die for no reason,
carefully tended plants never produce vegetables,
one morning chopped off plants greet you, the offender a sneaky animal,
heavy rains decimate young plants and vegetables,  
plants struggle to survive under a searing sun.

I enjoy watching my garden progress from an empty piece of soil to a lush patch of foliage, and then reluctantly watch plants wither as their lifespan ends.

But as I pull dead plants and level the soil I smile, knowing the cycle will repeat the following year. Maybe the harvest will be better, maybe not. Time will tell. Life is like that.