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I am growing two eggplants! June 25, 2010

Posted by Jenny in gardening, memoir, Uncategorized.
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I am inordinately proud of these.

What is it about the eggplants, out of all of the vegetables I am growing this summer? I really don’t know. Perhaps it’s that the eggplant foliage suffered a vicious assault from an army of tiny hardshelled black beetles earlier in the season. I belatedly doused them with pyrethrum. I didn’t expect that the plants would have any particular inclination to do anything for me after that. But I discovered one eggplant a week ago, and then today, I noticed the other one.

Here is my vegetable plot.

I have very little experience growing vegetables, having lived surrounded by shade for the past 16 years. I tended to my shade-tolerant perennials and grew a few tomatoes on the deck. In March I moved into my current abode in Asheville, and learned that my landlady and her husband had plans for a large vegetable garden in the ample space behind my house. Their plan was to do a combination of the traditional rows of vegetables and the “Square Foot Gardening” (SFG) system popularized by Mel Bartholomew. I was under no obligation to participate, but I felt this was an opportunity I could not let pass by.

I never would have had the ambition or energy to do the tremendous amount of work involved in getting this project started. Walt, Gordon, and Ralph did a lot of roto-tilling and building of the SFG boxes. Peggy, Claudia, Resheda, and Debbie advised on the planting and the irrigation, and once the beds and rows were established, I saw them going continuously up and down the hill and doing an admirable amount of planting. After a while, I got my act together and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, sage, onions, chives, peppers, and the potatoes that Peggy generously gave me.

Onions, basil, peppers, and some zinnias I threw in for color

Peggy and Walt constructed a very professional-looking SFG space with thin PVC piping.

PVC piping in foreground, looking down one of the rows over a lot of squash

Walt was the mastermind behind our rain collection and irrigation system. This involved a hell of a lot of PVC pipes, valves, hoses, and barrels. We collect rainwater off my roof at the end of my porch.

The green rain barrels are at the end of the porch

Water collected in the barrels is pumped up periodically to a giant cube-shaped tank at the top of the garden. One of the outflow hoses goes to a soaker hose system and the other is for hand-watering.

The magnificent water tank

With very little effort on my part, I have become part of a flourishing neighborhood garden.

The row of tomatoes is irrigated under the black plastic

Thanks to Claudia, we even have beehives, which are protected from possible ursine invasion by an electric fence.

Birdbath in the foreground, beehives in the background

I am not sure that Mel, of the SFG system, has the answers to everything, but he seems like a benevolent presence hovering in the background.