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Two gardens, one poking along, the other an explosion of growth. I have two garden spaces, my backyard and a shared plot at a community garden. I recently came into the space at the community garden (you can read more about that here), and this is my first summer season in this new spot. The winter/spring garden there never really took off. It was really too late to plant much. The up and coming summer garden is another story completely. Now that the days and evenings are steadily warmer the plants at the community garden seem to double in size every few days. There are a couple of bare patches, but I am reluctant to fill them with anything. I am seriously afraid we are going to grow right outside our allotted space.

I garden this plot with another family and in it we have one hill of zucchini, about seven cucumber vines, four eggplants, four pepper plants, a row of soup beans, a couple of melons, a couple of winter squash vines, a few strawberries, the remainder of a row of carrots, and a whopping twenty-one tomato plants. We are already harvesting zucchini, a few of the tomato plants have green tomatoes, and the cucumbers and winter squash are setting their first fruit. This little space is proving to be extremely bountiful.

ACG: Anna Swartz and Brockton Horticulture

The garden beds in my backyard are a different story. A lot of it was planted before the stuff in the community garden and is still fairly small, and a lot less lush. Take for example the zucchini plants. The one below is at the community plot.


These are the ones in my backyard (lower right).


I have been feeling a little bummed about the pokiness of my backyard beds and have been thinking a lot about what could be making the community garden plot so different. At first I wondered if there were some residual synthetic fertilizers in the soil left from earlier occupants of the space, but the family I have been sharing the space with has had the spot for a few years and has not applied synthetic fertilizers. It is likely that if they were used before they have long been disolved.

So the other factors would be soil fertility, water, and sun. I have good soil in my yard, so it has to be sun and water. And, in the end, I think it is the difference in the hours of sunlight. At the community garden the space gets full sun pretty much from sun up to sundown. My backyard spaces are maybe getting six hours. Growing trees on the edges of our property and in our neighbor’s property are eating into the time the beds receive sunlight. This is a growing problem (no pun intended).


So, I need to come up with a solution or be okay with a slow-growing garden. I could relocate the beds, and I would happily do so if I knew we were going to stay put in this house indefinitely. The prospect of tearing up the little lawn we have in the back and rerouting the irrigation is a little daunting when we hope to sell and move sometime in the next five years. That is a kind of project I would be perfectly willing to do in a more permanent location.

So, I think I have to learn to be okay with a slow garden and grateful for the fast one. I have also put my name on the waiting list to get my own plot at the community garden.