Oh! How My Garden Grows.

"Growth is a greater mystery than death. All of us can understand failure,
we all contain failure and death within us, but not even the successful man
can begin to describe the impalpable elations and apprehensions of growth."
- Norman Mailer

Six years ago, my lovely little backyard was being used as an enormous dog pen. The previous owner had two huskies who lived outside year round. There were two gigantic kennels with dog houses in them that took up the bulk of the actual "yard" (where the grass should have been) and the tool shed was used as another dog house with straw on the floor. Because this was their primary home, the dogs walked, poo'd, dug, and slept wherever they liked. So, when I took over the house, the backyard wasn't, exactly, fit for human use.

That first summer, I hired a professional to come in an clean it up. He put in a small raised bed to my specifications and he graded and laid sod in all the other areas. Over the past five years, my garden has grown to include every plant-able area except for the grassy bits. It contains a small veggie patch, a large spot exclusively for basil, another small herb garden, a large flower garden, a large mint patch, a spot for roses and a spot for the legacy rhubarb. Last year, I tried to cultivate clematis against one side of the chain link fence but my efforts haven't yielded much success.

Lack of success has been a theme in recent years. Last summer my garden had some challenges. Mainly, the weather was weirdly unpredictable and, just when the plants hit their hard-core growth spurt, I left town for two weeks. When I returned, my tomatoes had gone prehistoric and were laying out over the patio like some sort of chlorophyll-octopus. In contrast, my cucumber plants only yielded three cukes and the "dead spot", where I tried a new combination of squashes, yielded nothing at all.

This summer, the combination of torrential rain and hellish heat kept me from maintaining my garden properly. Whole areas are overgrown. The new potato patch didn't get installed. The mid-summer flowers never really bloomed properly. On top of it all, everything is finishing it's run early. I generally harvest my basil in September. This year, it's easily two weeks past its prime already. It's been a very disappointing year on my little patch of land.

But, even after two painful and unproductive garden years, I'll still be out there next summer. I keep faith that soon I'll have a perfect season, with balmy weather for planting and weeding and the the right balance of sunshine and rain so my plants will be at their most productive. Because, in the end, every spring brings the promise of new growth and hope for beauty and abundance - and isn't that enough to keep us going?

Plus, I'm thinking about putting in bee hives next spring so there's always that.

- Alex

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