Attack of the Killer Zucchini


I decided to grow a garden this year.  Kind of…

I live in a townhouse.  With no yard to call my own, I bought some large planters ($$) for my sunny deck.  I’m growing two tomato plants ($$) and a basil plant ($$) in organic soil ($$) using organic fertilizer ($$).  Kind of…

It’s been a rough go with the tomatoes.  As usual.  First it was powdery mildew ($$), then fungus gnats ($$).  The most recent crisis is white flies ($$).  Tomatoes are a pain in the ass.  And expensive ($$).

This latest chapter “AGMA Works the Land” takes me back my very first foray into agriculture some 35 years ago.  Our first house had yard big enough for a small (ha!) garden.  My husband and I were thrilled at the thought of being farmers!  We had no idea how to grow anything.  I’m a city girl.  He’s an Army brat.  This was going to be an interesting experiment.

We planned to repeat a similar experiment later with a baby. Eventually.  We had no idea what to do with a baby either.  Being forward thinking people, we thought it was best to begin with vegetables, get that down, then move on to babies.  Solid plan right?

What the hell was wrong with us?

My husband meticulously planned the layout of the 5 X 8 foot plot behind our driveway.  NOT really a small garden we realized later on when we got into the “perpetual care” phase of the garden.  This phase starts as soon as the seeds go in the ground.  It doesn’t end until the first freeze.  It’s like a nightmare.

We planted tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.  I’m sure there was more, but those three stick in my memory.  They were all a pain in the ass.

The cucumbers grew into long, green hotels for cucumber beetles.  I don’t think we had one cuke with any vacancies.  They were all inedible.

The tomatoes were very temperamental German heirlooms.  My husband lovingly and painstakingly nurtured them from seed.  I think some nights he went out to serenade them.  When the first small green tomato appeared, his joy was unrestrained!  Soon after, he discovered the baby tomato missing.  Vanished.  In it’s place, a small red cherry tomato was wired onto the stem.  We had neighbors.  They thought they were funny.  My husband has never been the same man since…

And the zucchini!  My God, the zucchini!  Why aren’t we warned as small children about the dangers of zucchini?  Unless properly managed, they take over your yard and house.  Who knew that they grow to such frighteningly huge proportions when you go on vacation for a week?  They looked like alien pods. I wouldn’t go near them.  The bad dreams eventually went away, but it took time.

Several hundred – possibly thousand – dollars and a few years later, we let go of our dreams of vegetable self-sufficiency.  We rationalized the heartbreak away.  If God had wanted us to grow our own food, God wouldn’t have given us grocery stores and farmer’s markets right?

We did, however, decide to have the babies anyway, despite our dismal gardening record.  I’m glad.  It went much better than vegetable growing.  Diaper rash seemed much easier to cope with than cucumber beetles.

Fast forward to the present.  Given my past history, my two tomato plants are doing pretty well.  They look dreadful because of all of their “issues”, but we’ve actually had a decent harvest with more still ripening on each plant.  And my homegrown tomatoes are pretty darned yummy.

I’m feeling better about gardening.  I might get adventurous next year.  Maybe I’ll add a cucumber and pepper plant into the mix.  I know – crazy talk!

No zucchini though. Not unless I get a drone.