Grow What You Know

By Bonnie Grant | August 28, 2022
Image by asadykov
by Bonnie Grant
August 28, 2022

Every year I struggle to get rid of some of my produce. And recently, I have simply struggled to grow some items. This climate is difficult and harsh, and growing some reliable vegetables sometimes slips through my fingers. I have my fortes, plants that I can grow under our conditions with certainty, but a few things seem to resist my efforts to nurture them. The combination of too much of one veggie and too little of another seemed to require a new approach. For this reason, my neighbors and I came up with a plan for growing vegetables this year.  

A Neighborhood Plan

I have lovely neighbors. We all keep vegetable gardens, although I probably have the most extensive edible garden with my berries, fruit trees and vines, and herb garden. The neighbors know to help themselves to herbs or fruit as needed, especially in spring, as they don’t cool season garden. And I reap the benefits of their excess harvests during the summer months. 

Neighbors’ Tomatoes

The last couple of years in this new gardening zone, I had outstanding success with corn, beans, basil, peppers, and squash. But I did not have much luck with my tomatoes. They came too late in the season, many didn’t ripen, and I had blossom end rot I couldn’t get a handle on. The bonus in this was I tried a fried green tomato recipe for the first time (Yum!), but I didn’t get to have any Caprese salad fresh from my garden plot. The neighbors came to the rescue. They had lovely, plump heirloom tomatoes in droves. They were smart and started their plants inside early under grow lights and had huge plants by the time they could go outside. Plus, they just seem to have that tomato green thumb that I lack. 

Community Gardening

Their squash crop failed, and the corn they grew was punky and didn’t produce much. I happily gave them whatever they needed in this food group. But because of our failures and our successes we have a plan to harvest our strengths this year. We call it community gardening. We divided up the crops by virtue of who had the space, but also the best technique and luck. We also bought a mixed pack of various heirloom, non-GMO seeds of many varieties. So I am growing what seems to thrive in my space, and they will be growing things like tomatoes. It’s a win, win situation. 

As I write, it is June and, although we have been graced with uncommonly cool, wet weather thus far, my crops are going beautifully. I was able to give lettuces, snow peas, and other cools season veggies to the folks across the street. My strawberries and raspberries look like they will be award winning this year. A walk through their garden sees the tomatoes with flowers, and other plants beginning to start producing, from which I will benefit. With this pact of a shared harvest, I see our larders getting full and our bellies even fuller with all the bounty the summer season has to offer. 

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