When Mother Nature Conspires Against You

You can take the girl out of the village, but you can’t take the village out of the girl

Yes, I grew up in a village. And, should you listen to my husband, a bit of a farm girl will always remain in me although I never lived on an actual farm. That’s why it seemed perfectly normal, if not almost necessary, for me to take up gardening when we moved into our own house.

Now, when I say gardening I’m referring to the mere activity of growing vegetables on your own because my tiny patch of dirt could hardly be considered as a garden by any true horticulturalist. Given the usual amounts of spare time I have I designed my garden accordingly: any task should be perfectly manageable in just 20 minutes. So I ended up with 6 square meters of farming land in total.

The dumbest farmers grow the biggest potatoes

My first two years of tending to my own garden turned out as tales of unexpected success. I was well aware of my complete lack of experience up front so I couldn’t hide my excitement over the first lettuce I harvested: I was actually able to grow something! And it wasn’t just lettuce, I was equally successful with broccoli, sweet peas, pak choi, and tomatoes. Especially the tomatoes, they were growing like crazy and I was proudly giving them away to my friends. I felt as a tomato-growing pro, even my mother-in-law complimented me on them!

This year it seems either my luck has run out or the nature decided to play dirty against me. Perhaps I was becoming too confident around the garden, even as much as giving advice to others so Mother Nature decided it was time to show me my place and teach me some humility around her.

Pride goes before a fall 

I planted the tomatoes in the middle of May when the first lettuce was already growing under the fleece cover. The sweet peas completed my spring sowing and planting (it’s a tight space, remember). I did everything by the book, and I mean it literally. At first everything looked business as usual and I was beginning to look forward to another successful year. But then it all started to go sour.

First came the slugs, the ugly brown ones. After just two days of rain when I didn’t check up on the progress in the garden they were all over the lettuce. I basically love animals and don’t support hurting them in any way. So in the beginning I was reluctantly picking up the slugs with gloves throwing them as far away as possible into the river that runs by our house. But the damp weather continued and I was slowly losing my battle over lettuce against these unappealing slimy creatures. Until one day when I noticed that they completely destroyed my zucchini plants – then I flipped out. It was gloves off from that point on, and I mean it literally again. I was done with picking them up, I went for more effective measures which I better not discuss here in detail if I want to maintain my nature lover image.

They are everywhere
They are everywhere

The rain began to affect my tomatoes too. At first full of green fruit the plants slowly started to wither away with some disease that attacked their once lush leaves. Now I don’t know what will happen first, but if I’m lucky at least some of the tomatoes will ripen before the plants completely die away. One thing is certain: they are well past their point of no return. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a couple of warm sunny days otherwise all my careful watering, tying and supporting them will be in vain.

IMG_3654

IMG_3667

Not to mention the sweet peas. I sowed them two weeks apart so that I would be able to pick young peas for my Thai curries and noodle dishes at least for a month. Well, I was wrong. The first crop was infected with some mysterious disease immediately after it flowered. The second one didn’t even get that far. So instead of feasting on curries for the whole summer this year’s total sweet pea crop amounted to two muesli bowls of fruit.

Dead on arrival
Dead on arrival

So I get it, Mother Nature, I’ve learned my lesson and I’m back at the beginner level again. I now know that with only a flick of a finger you can ruin all my efforts just for the fun of it. But please, stop putting me in situations where I need to decide between trying to grow  organic vegetables and growing anything at all, it’s a decision I can’t make. Sometimes you really bring out the worst in  me, like my intense killer instinct against slugs, and I don’t like the least bit of it.  So make this experiment end, please, because I want to enjoy gardening again. This year it’s been causing me nothing but stress.

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