I’m giving in. I have handed the garden over to the chickens.
These past few weeks, I haven’t been giving the garden the attention it needs, or that it deserved. I’ve put at least 1 bushel of tomatoes in the compost, likely more. I’ve let at least another half bushel or bushel go bad on the vine, all because of the simple fact that I got married.
I didn’t realize it, but I was stressed. I was so wound up, so on edge, and I didn’t even know it.
What I did know was I had bushels of tomatoes in two separate fridges that I simply didn’t have time to can. When it came to two days before the wedding, I gave in. It just wasn’t happening.
After the wedding, I cleaned out another bushel from the garden that will need to be put up this weekend, for I don’t know how much longer those tomatoes will hold on.
When we came back from our honeymoon, the garden was full.
But we still had cleaning to catch up to, work to catch up on, dogs to love (we’d left them behind for the week). So, I said, I will pick them this weekend.
Then the rains.
Oh, how I wish I had just gone and picked in the rain. At least 5 pounds of my favorite Great White tomatoes, gone. Paul Robeson, Bonny Best, gone. I managed to trick half a bushel out of the garden, the rest a war zone of fallen tomatoes that the birds or bugs or simply the water had gotten to first. I surveyed the growth, tomato vines that were once taller than me, and I gave it all to the chickens.
I suppose there’s a flip side of this. I have still canned over 20 quarts of tomatoes in various forms, and should be able to get another 15 put up. The food we’ve put up isn’t enough to last until next year, but it’s a better alternative than the store in the meantime. And, the other day when I went to the grocery store to pick up things I don’t have here (like yogurt), I almost bought tomato sauce (not wanting to dip into my stock already)–until I used my brain, exercised some self-control, and cooked up fresh tomatoes right on the spot.
Even still, the tomatoes that had gone too bad for canning were still good enough for chickens–free food for the chickens, and free compost for the garden. This includes the bushel + that was dumped, and the fallen tomatoes in the garden war.
More importantly, I know I can do it again. I have a plan for next year, for the varieties to put in and the layout to use.
I went from thinking I could never grow things to knowing I can. To knowing I can start seeds from scratch and kick a garden in gear. To learning to can and filling shelves with more jam than I know what to do with. To sharing with friends.
This year was bad timing. Many funerals, lots of wedding planning. My time was not mine, mostly because I let it be so. Ultimately, those wasted tomatoes were my fault–my excuses, my fault. But the situation could be worse. I could not be giving back to the mini farm, I could be throwing it in the trash, I could not be learning.
So, to next year, a year filled with lots of canning and lots of tomatoes and lots of love.