Thursday, November 20, 2008

Veggie Garden Update: A Lament

Ever since August when Tina at In the Garden suggested that others might like to join her on the 20th of each month in posting an update on our vegetable gardens, I've wanted to join in. No, I don't have any vegetables growing in the garden right now; the last of the green tomatoes froze a few weeks ago. But I did have a post halfway completed before the September Veggie Day, and then my computer crashed with my photos and narrative (saved in my documents, not on Blogger). Finally, many weeks and $$$ later, I have my computer back--well, sort of, but that's another story. So I hope you don't mind a post that's not just a few hours late, but actually two months late.

I mentioned the dismal state of my vegetable garden several times this summer. I confess that I let the weeds get away from me, but the biggest disappointments in that garden were the tomatoes, which fell victim to mildew or blight. Perhaps I could have halted that with a fungicide, but I didn't, and though they did produce quite a few tomatoes for awhile, I didn't get the bounty I expected, as one by one the plants wilted and turned brown. I think I've learned some lessons this year, and next year I plan to take action as soon as I notice something amiss.

The above picture of tomatoes lined up on my front porch to finish ripening was taken on August 30, the last good harvest I had. Please indulge me in a silly little review of this past year, my one and only Veggie post for 2008; I plan to do much better in 2009.

Elegy for a Vegetable Garden

"When in April the sweet showers fall
That pierce March’s drought to the root and all"

Then Chaucer’s pilgrims on pilgrimages long to go,
But I think of gardening and vegetables to grow.

Visions of ripe, red tomatoes and firm zucchinis
Spinach, lettuce, squash and lots of green beanies.

Seeds were purchased, and a new tiller, too
Just waiting for warm days and skies of blue.

At last Spring arrived, and with tiller at the ready,
We turned up the black earth with strides slow and steady.

Two rows of green beans, seeds neatly placed east-west,
Kohlrabis planted at Husband's request.

Spinach, lettuce, and tomatoes--quite a slew
Planted along with squash and a pepper plant, too.

Only one pepper plant? Now that’s a good question—
But eating too many can cause me indigestion.

Then came the rains; the weeds grew out of sight.
The damp may have led to the tomato blight.

The hot summer sun added to the decline,
Towards weeding and hoeing I wasn't inclined.

The spinach and lettuce grew more than we need
After a few pickings I let them go to seed.

The squash blossomed and produced quite a bunch,
That is, till the beetles made them their lunch.

The pepper plant never really grew
Perhaps it was lonely--I should have planted two.

To be truthful, the green beans were quite a success;
Most eaten fresh; some frozen--a few pints, more or less.

But the rest of the garden was another story;
It didn't fulfill my dreams of veggie glory.

Tomato leaves began curling and slowly turned brown,
Eventually I had to cut them all down.

No sauce or juice in the freezer for winter,
It’ll be cans from the store in the chili for dinner.

I've learned from all this and will start over next year.
I must be more diligent; that's very clear.

I’ll mulch and I’ll weed and I’ll stake those tomatoes!
Who knows, I might even plant some potatoes!

I regret all my neglect, dear garden, really I do.
Next year I promise to take much better care of you.

(My apologies to Chaucer who must be turning over in his grave right now.)


  1. Wow Rose, that's a beautiful poem, a bit saddening all the same. Speaks out your emotions! I was touched.

  2. This year wasn't our best for veggies either...well some things did okay...always next year.

    Very creative to get your whole season into that poem.

  3. Computer problems are a pain, especially for me as I need lots of help being a technophobe.

    Love those rows of tomatoes and primulas.
    And the poem.

  4. Oh Rose! I love it!! What a poet your are. "Beanies'-hilarious, indigestion-a seldom seen word in a poem. I bow to your talent extraordnare! :)reecons

  5. Perfectly charming! I love that display with the African violets and geraniums. It is so very lovely. The elegy says it all doesn't it? Always next year for us gardeners and things don't always work out the way we want. East-west orientation is the best way to orient veggies I think so glad you mentioned it. I have added your link and I think it is a perfect time for it.

  6. Your poetic lament is marvelous Rose. I am sure you will do better next year. Hopefully the spring weather will be more cooperative too.

    That picture of all your tomatoes and geraniums sure is a lovely sight. I can tell my eyes are already starving for color this winter.

  7. Rose ~ I love your poem! It brings back the days of summer to me and I can relate to all of it! The tomatoes you did get look like they were tasty.

  8. Oh my love all the tomatoes! I am sure you have eaten since taking this photo!
    A lovely poem dedicated to veggies..seldom see those; many are written about flowers.

  9. Sounds like your veggie garden went the way of my flower beds. You have to admit, all that rain was a hindrance in some ways. It was so muddy for such a long time. Your poem was fun, though!

  10. Looks like you had a great tomato harvest to me Rose. Those tomatoes looked great and mighty tasty. Enjoyed your poem very much! What a great poet your are!!!

  11. Dear Rose,
    Thank you for a wonderful sonnet to the vegetable garden. I empathize.
    I have been veggie gardening for over 30 years...still some years the tomatoes do great and others not so! I take it all in stride and am glad I do not depend on my veggie patch for winter food.
    You are a poet!
    Thanks for the smiles and as Chris said, "Always next year."

  12. Chandra, Thank you! I meant it to be funny, but I think my regret and disappointment came through.

    ChrisND, Much of the failure of the garden was my fault, but the tomato blight was out of my control. The green beans were exceptional this year, though.

    Maggie May, I may do a whole post on computer problems one day! What's most frustrating, though, is that nothing seems to be made to last anymore, and you can't get parts to fix it.

    Beckie, Thanks, Beckie; it didn't turn out quite as funny as I meant it to--the humor muse left me, I think. What does your signature mean??

    Tina, Thanks for sponsoring the Veggie Garden Day; I really had planned to participate more, even though this year was a disappointment for me. The "east-west" part came from a post Carol did once on planting green beans. My first planting didn't come up very well, so I planted more and followed her advice. The second planting did much better. Probably the right amount of rain had more to do with their success than the east-west, but it's fun to think that could make a difference:)

  13. Lisa, I really got too lazy in the vegetable garden this year, but also the floods we had in June really affected the tomatoes, I think. I know what you mean--don't those red tomatoes and pink geraniums look great right now?

    Cindy, Thanks! The tomatoes I did get were great--I had several different varieties. And I fibbed here a little--I did make some juice for the freezer, but not nearly as much as I had planned.

    Anna, I think you're right--I can't think of a single poem I've ever read about vegetables. Maybe if my garden does better next year I'll write an "Ode to Tomatoes." They're just as beautiful as flowers when they ripen:)

    Joyce, I blame those early rains for what happened to my tomatoes. We did get quite a few, though, and next year is bound to be better!

    Susie, Thank you for the compliment; the only decent poetry I can write are silly little rhymes like these. We did have some great tomatoes; they just didn't last as long as I'd hoped.

    Sherry, We must have passed each other in cyberspace--I was just visiting you:) You are absolutely right; some years are better than others. The apples were exceptional this year, and I still have some in the garage. Next year may be the tomatoes' turn.

  14. Rose,

    You did teach English didn't you! Here is my favorite line:

    "Visions of ripe, red tomatoes and firm zucchinis
    Spinach, lettuce, squash and lots of green beanies."

    It totally appeals to the giggly little kid inside and surely Chaucer accessed his inner kid occasionally! What a dull life if one can't play!

    Regrets...I've had a few springs to mind!

    Have a fun weekend. Gail

  15. Hi Rose, I thought it quite funny, well done. Beanies indeed.

    I read that putting straw under the tomato plants keeps the bad things from splashing up and infecting the leaves, I tried it this year and think it worked. I never spray anything.


  16. Dear Rose......I have a huge grin right across my face.....I love the poetry.....such fun......

    I love the produce ripening on the colourful.....makes you want to pick one up and eat it......

    I did quite well with tomatoes but had a bad year in 2007.....

    Have a wonderful and happy weekend.......

  17. I love your poem! Especially the end. Don't we all promise the same thing every year;)

  18. Rose your toms look good to me! And lots of varieties too, but then again, I'm not the veggie gardener in the family, so what do I know! Sorry you were disappointed, but at least it made a good post!

  19. Hi,
    Love your poem about your veggies. That row of tomatoes is quite impressive to me...I'm not a veggie gardener. I wrote a poem about Thanksgiving on my blog today. It's fun to put parts of our lives in rhyme...isn't it.

  20. Rose, the signature was a boo boo on my part. It was the word verification. I didn't realise I typed it in the comment sectio. So much for proof reading!

  21. Gail, I'm not much of a poet, but silly little rhymes appeal to me. Glad you liked it! And actually Chaucer used quite a bit of humor in the Canterbury Tales, too.

    Frances, Thanks; when you can't think of a rhyming word, make one up! You're right about the straw; I used to use it, but my source wasn't readily available this summer. Next year I will definitely get some for the tomatoes.

    Cheryl, Glad I could make you smile:) This was the first time in years my tomatoes wilted, so I was taken by surprise. But every year is different, so next year I may have basketfuls of them.

    Marnie, I always have good intentions when starting a vegetable garden. Last year I mulched a lot more, and it paid off. I think that will be part of my gardening resolutions for next year.

    Suburbia, The tomatoes I had were really good, just not enough of them. I find it's easier to laugh about something when the disappointment has passed.

    Balisha, Thanks; I will check out your poem!

    Beckie, Thanks for explaining; I thought it was another computer abbreviation I wasn't aware of:) That's funny!

  22. Beautiful picture of the flowers and tomatoes together!
    Sorry your puter crashed. :( It happens to us all at some point.. arggg,,,

  23. This was absolutely delightful, Rose! I am glad you saved your veggie post until now. Our gardens are frozen too, so it was refreshing to see yours from August.
    I looooooved your poem. Bad poetry - pah! It was fun - and good.
    Hugs (by the way - can I have a teensy, weensy taste of your juicy-looking tomatoes??) Ummmmm.

  24. How fun was your poem!!!???very cool... We did not have the crop of tomatoes like we normally get and it was not a bad summer growing season....go figure...your photo of the flowers and tomatoes look wonderful...Thanks for sharing!

  25. Rose ! What a perfect post : )
    I love the eulogy .. I feel that way about some of my poor plants that were so neglected .. the guilt factor is huge for gardeners thinking of the past year and what went wrong .. and WHY it went wrong ? LOL
    I promise my garden better care next year too !

  26. Well, as gardeners, we all hope Chaucer is turning over in his grave, helping us out in the composting process! Really, your poem is quite refreshing in this season of reflection and angst. I'm glad your husband likes kohlrabi. It's one of my favorite root veggies, treasured for its memory of Grandma's garden in Germany. Thanks for your offering, Rose.

  27. That kind of tomato harvest from our Austin garden would have had me sending up skyrockets instead of elegies, Rose, although I loved your poem ;-]

    I hope the computer woes are over and your 2009 garden will make you happy!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  28. Skeeter, Thanks! Computer problems can be so frustrating.

    Wendy, Thanks--Notice I do better on rhymes when I have time to think about them a little more. You're welcome to have a bite of one of those tomatoes:)

    Neva, Thank you! I talked to other gardeners in the area who had trouble with their tomatoes this year, too, so maybe it wasn't just me.

    Joy, Every year I make promises to do better...if we didn't have something to improve, what would be the fun in gardening?!

    W2W, Thanks for the intertesting perspective on Chaucer:) Kohlrabis are not my favorite. My mother used to cook them in a cream sauce, but Husband likes to eat them raw--definitely the best way.

    Annie, I shouldn't complain so much--the tomatoes were great as long as they lasted. My poem can't compare to your Bug Geek song, though:)

  29. Rose, Loved the poem--isn't that every gardeners lament? I thought your tomatoes were quite impressive--I agree with Annie--here in Austin that would have been a bumper crop! Here's to a lovely winters rest and a new start on the garden in 09--Oh! And Happy Turkey Day!

  30. Lovely poem!

    It wasn't a good year here for tomatoes. At least not in our garden!

  31. LOL! I think Chaucer would be laughing too. Don't blame yourself entirely for your veggie failures. We had some pretty extreme weather last year. It's good that you're willing to try again next year. Good luck!


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