I investigated my tomato plants more closely today and to my consternation all the green tomatoes – at least 50 of them – have disappeared. The stems have been chewed through. I also found 6 chewed off stems on the eggplants. There are a lot of husks in the husk cherry bed, but no cherries.
It is unbelievably frustrating. I am quite used to being down about the fact that my garden cannot feed my family even during the growing season. I had long ago accepted that, unless I take down each and every tree on my property, and some of the neighbor’s trees as well, I will never be able to grow grains. But last year’s blight debacle made me cross off potatoes too, at least for this and perhaps even next year, and I can’t find room even for corn or soy beans.
But fine, sunny spots are at a high premium, so I grow high value crops in them. So I had thought we’d have at least lots of tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, at least, enough for daily eating and for putting up for winter. Instead I see almost my entire crop go to unknown, wasteful critters.
Some days – like this one – are just palled by this feeling of failure, impatience, and a low dread. I am bewildered by the maps and projected yields of backyard homesteads in books like The Backyard Homestead: Produce all the food you need on just a quarter acre! (click on Look Inside in Amazon, go to page 13 for an example). All these ideal situations have no resemblance to my garden. My pure joy a couple of days ago when discovering the herb garden and orchard at The Cloisters in NYC too quickly dissipated when the inevitable comparisons to my own perennial garden and berry bushes.
To try to cheer myself up I tell myself that this is only my second summer gardening. I am learning daily and next year will be better again. Look around at all we’ve accomplished! It doesn’t help. It seems so insignificant. Then I tell myself that we will instead support my local foodshed by buying more at the Farmer’s Market. I do this already for fruits and corn. In case of doom descending, that local foodshed is just as important as the garden, if not more, but it is of course also more vulnerable too.
We all have days like these, no? Does it help to make a list of what is still to be done? Here goes, the most important projects:
- build solar dehydrator
- plant more seeds in empty beds, buy and barter perennials and transplant
- build tool shed so big shed can becomes woodworking shop
- build second beehive and extra boxes
- look into possibility of a dwarf orchard
- weed and prepare front garden after water leak has been fixed
- start planning for chickens, if not this Fall, then next Spring.