It’s harvest season in Indiana. The cornfields have been transformed into giant mazes. Pumpkins, squash, apples and cider are abundant. I thought now would be the time for me to reap the fruits of my labor but that is sadly not how events played out. I shall explain.
First I should back up a few months. I was sitting outside in April and ended up talking to one of the staff at my apartment complex. I said they should have an area that we could use as a community garden. They own the building a few doors down the street which has garden plots on the roof, and he said that since they weren’t all being used then they could let me have one.
I was thrilled! I imagined summer days engaged in an age-old tradition, getting fresh air, exercise, and working on my tan. How healing it would be for mind, soul, and body to enrich my life with this wholesome activity, communing with nature.
I even thought it could usher in a new era into my life, like they talk about in the line from that song in the 1960s musical Hair: “This is the Dawning of the Age of Asparagus.”
A coworker gave me a tomato plant and sunflowers. A friend donated some mint. My mom let me have whatever seed packages she had on hand and even sent me some garlic cloves she had dug up from her garden. (I now know that whenever I get a package from her I should open it over the sink.)
I had to keep asking when the plots would be tilled and ready for use. This didn’t happen until mid-May, which even in my limited experience seemed a bit late to get started. Soon after everything was planted they hooked up the irrigation system. This may sound really fancy but what it meant was that you could no longer use the water spigot to fill up a bucket to water your plot.
The irrigation didn’t provide enough water, and since this is a rooftop garden, it is in full sun. This was around the time of the summer solstice which meant lots and lots of daylight hours. It might have been a better use of this space to make clay pots and leave them up there to bake.
The options at that point were to haul buckets of water up three flights of stairs (nope), unhook the system and risk not being able to get it functional again (didn’t want to go there), or do a rain dance (not my style).
Then there was the issue of weeds. Not knowing what I’m doing, I had a friend come up to check out the plot to tell me what should stay and what needed to go. I didn’t feel like putting him to work while visiting me; I thought I’d just wait until tomorrow to sort it all out.
Except that when I returned the next day a maintenance guy mentioned that since they saw so many weeds, they went ahead and tilled it over. I realized some plantings might still grow. But if I had trouble before separating the wheat from the chaff then it was impossible now, considering that the sprouts were no longer in discernible rows. It had become garden soup.
I feel like a disappointment to all of my green-thumbed friends. But if it weren’t for people like me then what they do wouldn’t be so amazing. It certainly gives me a new appreciation for those treading the earth with their gardening superpowers.