First you have to plant a garden.

September’s here. So soon?

There’s that hint of the coming season in the air. A near-record hot day followed with a near-record cold (or cool) night. Great for finishing tomatoes and sleeping, this kind of weather.

I don’t have tomatoes planted this year. The yard nazis probably would have cut them to the ground anyway, like they did my little herb garden. They did trim a tomato plant to the ground one year. Truly steamed me!

But I wander.

If I had tomatoes planted, this would be the time of year I’d have buckets full ripening each day. I’d have enough to give away or freeze or can or turn into tomato juice. I like that! Homemade tomato juice is something I like to make.

My garden space is so poor, this was a whole season's "crop" a few years back.

My garden space is so poor, this was a whole season’s “crop” a few years back.

Mine is alive, not flat and “canny” like commercial tomato juice. Mine has basil (yum!), ginger, salt, pepper, a tiny amount of sugar to brighten flavor, garlic, onion…whatever spices or herbs I have handy that sound right at the time. Oh, marjoram is lovely in tomato juice. Sage. Best when those herbs are home grown.

But I salivate!

If the yard nazis haven’t trimmed them down to the ground, this is the prime time of year, too, for marigolds and nasturtiums, two of my favorites. I’ve never eaten the former, but the latter…mildly spicy, floral, great fresh on sliced garden tomatoes! Mmmm! Along with all my other favorites, especially the many varieties of basil.

Mmm! Basil!

One year I grew twelve different varieties of basil. I didn’t know there were so many. I got a seed catalog in the mail, however, with that many varieties. I tried them all!

That was the same year I planted six varieties of heirloom tomatoes grown from seed from the same catalogue. It was heaven! Plain old sliced tomatoes topped with oil, twelve varieties of basil chopped, a little chopped mint, and chopped nasturtiums, salt and pepper: the family practically made a meal of tomatoes alone! We could have. And we barely made a dent in the abundance of tomatoes and herbs.

Abundance!

You know the season’s over, too, when your non-gardening neighbors pull the blinds and lock the doors when their “spidey sense” tells them that shopping bag you’re carrying is full to the top with zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and green beans. More for me! I miss having a decent garden area, even though there are only so many ways to use up all that fresh produce before it goes bad. I love the challenge of too much garden produce.

Of course, first you have to plant a garden.

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yard nazis, part 2

Believe me, I appreciate help when I need it. I have no false modesty about that. Also, I believe if someone wants to do something nice for another person, it is wrong not to let them have that chance. Though I haven’t been sick this summer, I haven’t felt up to the level of effort a pristine garden requires.

Of course, I also don’t believe in removing any organic material from a garden if possible. Return to the soil what you can, and it will more than return benefits to you down the road. That is, I try to return yard waste back to the soil. It’s an organic gardening strategy that encourages healthy, loamy soil that is full of nutrients, worms, and the micro-flora and fauna that is healthy soil. Traditional gardeners see that as messy gardening, so they rake out the good mulch and use chemicals to force their plants to poop out fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Ugh!

"herb garden"

Though my herb garden this year wasn’t much, it gave me fresh herbs for my food. Maybe it wasn’t obvious, but weed-whacking through this plot would have been very aromatic because there was a border of chives and separate plantings of peppermint, basil, tarragon, and dill weed. My door was open. I could have been asked if there was anything I wanted to save. I guess in the world of yard nazismus, scorched earth is the policy.

mint saved by bluebells

Some of my mint survived because it was mixed in the bluebells, or, as I look at it, because bluebells were mixed in my mint!

About 6:15 this morning, there was a racket outside. My cats weren’t happy, of course, but they watched out the door anyway, then ran over to me to get a little loving and reassurance. Yep, yard nazis were at work! Not like the time my neighbor across the grass took it on herself to clean out my garden space, pulling out my mint and removing the organic material I wanted to decompose into the soil, though. This was serious weed-whacking!

rhubarb

Find the rhubarb in this picture. You can’t? Well, there are the stumps of two plants in the picture somewhere. Weed-whackery that just makes no sense to me. Rhubarb isn’t everyone’s favorite, but the plant is attractive enough most people recognize it as something the gardener planted there, something with a purpose.

dill saved by bluebells

Bless you, little dill weed! You survived because you were among the real weeds, those bluebells! What irony! Maybe there is a value to bluebells after all!

2008-12-31 yard nazismus 015 volunteer elm sapling

Hee! Hee! You are an elm sapling! You survived the herbal pogrom! Grow, little tree! Grow 80 feet tall!

I don’t own this place, I just rent it. I guess I don’t have much say in anything, and there isn’t much point to having anything but bluebells and iris, scentless roses and the thistle. The latter has taken over many of the flower beds in the complex, a gift from birds that eat thistle seed, perhaps, or the wind. Let the morning glories spread like the wind, speaking of which. Don’t bother with the weeding because the weed-whacking yard nazis will be through eventually. If you didn’t plant it, you won’t feel bad when they whack it to the ground! Whack! Whack! Whack!

I’m all about surviving retirement with two cats, eh? What happens outside I will try not to let bother me. Much. Remember, too, when someone wants to do something nice for you it is wrong not to let them have that chance. Yard nazis have mothers, too. In fact, I also know them to be really nice, thoughtful people. My not-so-obvious garden will all grow back.