My garden has a weird growth curve this year. Something like 5th percentile for height and 10th percentile for weight. In all my years gardening I’ve never seen my plants so diminutive. I have pencil marks on the wall of my mind telling me what growth in previous years was like. So come July 4th I expect the corn, squash and tomatoes to be thigh high.
This year the squash hangs out around my ankles and only a few tomatoes reach my knee. I have two tomatoes plants that have been ankle high for two months.
The peppers and eggplant. I have replanted them four times. First they had terrible germination rates and then they were ravaged by flea beetles— those pesky bugs that munch leaves into dainty avant-garde lace.
Basil usually grows like carpet in my garden. This year I have planted two jumbo packets of seeds. That’s enough basil, laid end to end, to walk to Italy on. I think I have twelve basil plants, all less than 2 inches tall. Normally I’d be making vats of pesto. This year I resorted to buying a large package of basil at Trader Joe’s. Now I don’t know what they think that is but it sure ain’t the basil. It tasted like old spicy grass. I threw the whole pack away.
I’m lost and dismayed. Like the mother with the smallest kid in playgroup I stare at my babies and wonder what I’ve done wrong.
Do I not feed them enough? Compost, coffee grounds, alpaca manure, worm castings. Watering like a maniac.
Bad genes? I purchased seeds from Bountiful Gardens, like always.
Too much environmental stress? I erected a giant shade structure to shelter the tomatoes.
Is it the new siblings? We have some really healthy looking new peach trees in the garden. Maybe this is their fault.
Am I bad mother?
So there. Let’s just say it. I feel like a failure. These days I’m prone to driving slowly by other people’s gardens. They probably think I’m casing their house but I’m just casing their tomatoes. “Look at those suckers” I think. I go home and stare again at mine. Somedays I think they have actually shrunk.
And the double decker of shame. I write about gardening. I feel like the parenting coach whose kid is throwing the mega tantrum in Target. “Hypocrit in aisle three” the overhead blares. Shove your head in the towel display and pretend that isn’t your kid.
I know I’m acting like a novice, a new mom. I’m freaking out at the hang nail. I ought to know that this too shall pass. It is just a bad year. We won’t starve. All I can say is stay tuned. I’ve put a request in to County Extension and Cheryl will be coming to do a home visit soon. In the meantime I’m the crazy lady out in the garden spoon feeding grass fed, high omega, fortified homemade compost tea to my tomatoes.
Yes, I’m hovering.
If you have any suggestions please share them. Relieve me from my misery.
Comparisons of previous years:
July 11, 2008
July 16, 2011- okay so that was a bit of a rough year too but that dark green plant in front is okra- this year my okra is 2 inches tall
July 2, 2103- squash plant
July 7, 2014- this squash plant has been like this for a month
July 7, 2014-stunted tomatoes
2014- The waste land where I have planted and replanted eggplant and peppers. ONE is alive –under that shroud.
July 7, 2013– It might look okay- but those are all tomatilllos (and peach trees) – not much else!!