My hometown, Greenwood, Indiana has a community garden. There are thirty-four 20’x20’ plots there. For a small consideration of $20.00 per year ($30.00 if you don’t live in Greenwood), you can rent one of these plots and set your hand at raising your own food. This year was my first year to try the “grand experiment” as I called it at the beginning. It has been an experiment alright, though it would seem that nature did the experimenting on me.
It was my stated intention to raise mostly potatoes on the idea that they would be easier to grow and the harvest would be large. So, I ordered a couple of pounds of Kennebecs and a pound of sweet potatoes. You’ll want to remember this part as it will come up later. We also bought a couple of peppers and tomatoes to fill a gap along with a bunch of bush beans. We were ready. So was nature.
We hauled in and spread several inches of the free compost that the city has. A kindly neighbor came over in his handy-dandy John Deere garden tractor and tilled everything in. He was good at what he did and the finished product was a thing to be admired. There was not a prettier or more level piece of plowed ground in the entire garden, maybe even the whole county. I was sure I was the envy of my thirty three neighbors. Well, I spent an afternoon or two putting everything in. What a gorgeous plot I would have. I sat back and waited for the inevitable bumper crop of potatoes, beans, peppers, and tomatoes that would make me the star of the Greenwood Community Garden. What I did not count on was nature’s sense of humor in dealing with my hubris.
It was a really wet spring, wasn’t it? It rained so much that I could not walk on the plot for most of the spring. What I did not see when this journey began was my little plot and the one next to it was in a very low point in the garden. On top of that, my neighbor to the west had built her ground up a good deal higher than mine. I could’ve gone fishing with all the water. Course, all of my peppers and tomatoes and maybe half of my potatoes were under water a good deal of the time. The sweet potatoes survived just fine. Figures. I don’t even like sweet potatoes.
When things did dry out, the entire weed kingdom decided to lay siege to my garden. I never saw so many weeds. I would no sooner clear a nice, clean patch of weeds then they would all migrate en masse to the other side of the garden. I get that cleared off then they would go right back where they started. They were toying with me. I fought back, though, and kept them at bay for the most part at the cost of several hours on hands and knees. In all my efforts, a little life shown through, mostly with the sweet potatoes. It is now November and here is the harvest: no beans, tomatoes, or peppers, Two or three palm sized Kennebecs, and maybe ten pounds of sweet potatoes.
I’ll be back next year. So will nature.