Friday, August 12, 2011

High Summer Crop Report

Corn crop at a stand-still in our garden, August 2011.
Summer has not been kind to our garden this year.  We've had weird weather this season-- first very overcast, then blisteringly hot for a brief period of time, now overcast again.  The fact that I neglected to water it during the crucial beginning stages certainly didn't help matters either.  As a result, the corn crop is still only a foot high and the tomatoes harvest has slowed to about one ripe tomato a week.  I'm not sure what's happening, I think our garden has given up.  I had such high hopes during the spring.  We'd planted such a potential bounty of vegetables and now we're down to a very spare harvest.

We have lots of strawberry plants, but very few strawberries.  (And yes, we did fertilize several times.)  The watercress finally died-- admittedly after weeks of neglect. Throughout the summer, we ate a handful of green beans and a few onions.  The lettuce bolted over a month ago and the swiss chard never did much.

In spite of the sad state of affairs, a few plants are still hanging in there-- herbs mostly-- and the citrus just won't stop.  We've been harvesting grapefruit for months and the new green fruit are growing larger on our tiny tree every day.  
Grapefruit growing larger every day in our garden, August 2011.
The oranges are growing too.  In fact, we figured out so late in the season that our horribly tart oranges had actually ripened into sweet mature fruit that there are still plenty of ripe oranges hanging alongside their small, green, and much younger sisters and brothers.  The squirrels love this tree too.  There's a giant nest growing at the top of the tree which we don't have the heart to demolish.  After all, there's enough fruit to go around and they don't seem to be causing any trouble.

When I was a little girl my favorite book was about a squirrel named Suzy who was driven from her beloved treetop nest by a gang of nasty red squirrels.   Miss Suzy moves into a neglected dollhouse she discovers when she flees her home.  Much to her dismay, she discovers that a band of unruly toy soldiers live in the dollhouse.  They just don't take care of it.  Miss Suzy makes the best of the situation by putting the dollhouse in order again for the toy soldiers.  But she isn't happy cooking and cleaning for the toy soldiers and wants her own little nest back again.  The toy soldiers are so grateful for everything she's done for them that they kick the nasty red squirrels out of her nest and she's able to go back home again.

This story certainly isn't very PC, but I don't care.  I sympathize with Miss Suzy (and I always have).  I love her treetop home full of tiny, well-ordered objects-- especially the acorn-top cups and the the twig broom she uses to clean her nest.  I know the squirrels in our yard aren't nearly as tidy or polite as Miss Suzy, but I don't have the heart to kick them out of their home.

I can't decide if having a squirrel's nest in our orange tree is the ultimate sign of neglect or a sign that there's room for all in our garden.  I can only say that it makes me happy to see it up there.
The family home of the squirrels who have taken up residence in our orange tree, August 2011.