EARTH EDUCATION: Suburban jungle

McClatchy InteractiveAugust 18, 2008 

It's August. The days are shortening, the campus is repopulated, and the tomato plants have turned into a jungle.

There is really no separating them anymore. I could try to fix all the runners to stakes, but there just isn't room for them. They are out of control. I know I've said it before, but I never even imagined that they could get this big. If I had, I would have spaced them out a little more, and I might not have the Amazon rain forest in my front yard.

Last year, when the garden was empty, one of my friends gave me a few plants to start things off. I planted two matching shrubs, which I've been told are Chinese indigo, in the corners, and a small lavender bush next to them. As it turns out, the lavender was rather too close to the tomato plants, and it has all but suffocated underneath their bulk. I've forgotten it for quite awhile, and when I lifted the vines today to check on it, it was mostly lifeless. All for tomato plants that the squirrels harvest before I can.

The Chinese indigo are another issue. They've grown exponentially, like everything else in that little patch, and they're getting very tangled with other plants. I should really move them, but I don't know quite where they'd go. There was so much I wanted to do with this yard, before I thought of the shade issues. There is one rose bush living under the big tree, and it seems to bloom every year. Maybe I should plant these over on that side of the yard and hope for the best.

At this point it's hard for me to be too invested in the fate of my vegetables. I've gotten fatalistic. I no longer expect to pick any of the tomatoes from my vines. Something - I have a good guess what it was - broke the top off of one of the pepper plants, along with my two most promising peppers. If I harvest anything from this garden, it'll be a happy bonus. Right now, I find myself thinking about it like a person who has disappointed me too many times. I can't bring myself to get my hopes up.

I have a garden. Who needs a boyfriend.

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