Last year, my garden was picture-perfect. Everything stood in tidy little rows, each plant maintaining its own little portion of the patch. However…it was pretty disappointing in terms of what it produced: namely, a handful of radishes, a couple of cucumbers, and maybe a dozen tomatoes. No onions, no peppers, no summer squash, no peas or beans, beets or carrots. Part of the problem was the heat, which came early and often, and the rain, which came rarely. It didn’t help either that the patch had been neglected by the previous owners of the house, who apparently thought it was better suited for an ash pile than a garden plot (even though they had built the raised bed in the first place). Add to this a mutant squirrel who thought he actually owned the property and therefore helped himself to all of the summer squash and most of the tomatoes before they were even halfway ripe, and well, there you have it. So much for summer bounty.
The one exception to both the picture-perfect and the non-producing? Zucchini, which launched guerilla warfare on anything and everything it could, evidently having decided that the entire garden belonged to it alone, and which constantly had to be pushed back into its place. Zucchini has no manners. Now, the upside to this rampaging was that I actually harvested a bunch of zucchini. But people do not garden for zucchini alone, or at any rate, I do not.
This year, my garden looks like it learned a few tactics from the zucchini of last year (which is now relegated to a different spot entirely in an effort to teach it to behave). I have leaf lettuce that refuses to bolt, despite a very hot July, and instead just gets more and more massive daily. If I could only freeze or can lettuce, I would be set for the year at this point. My tomato plants, celebrating that the aforementioned squirrel has been forced from the yard by a pair of docile and charming rabbits (explain that one to me), have decided to flourish and prosper, leaping from their cages and waterfalling over the back of the bed. I’m terrified that the approximately one million green tomatoes out there are all going to ripen at once and I will be utterly overcome.
The pea vines that supposedly shouldn’t sprawl have ignored that dictum from their seed package and have instead run their flowering tendrils roughshod through the bush beans, dragging them across the garden on a merry adventure. And the beans like it if the number I’m picking each day is any indication. The peppers, instead of drowning under the tomato waves, are growing obscenely tall, popping out emerald cones that turn to vibrant rubies in just a few days. Oh, and the summer squash is back from last year. I didn’t invite it, but seeing as how it felt welcome and everything else is running all over the place, what’s another tangle of leaves and vines and blossoms?
So my garden looks atrocious but I swear it likes it that way. My neighbor, who maintains a meticulous little plot, strung with twine and tidily marked–and apparently dedicated solely to crafting pickles–doubtless thinks I’m negligent. But what can I say? It’s all the zucchini’s fault. And as long as I’m benefiting from this rebellion, you won’t hear me complain.