I do like when people look at it or comment on it or share something about their garden.
But, please do not tell me anything I should do in my garden or even worse JUST BEGIN DOING THINGS.
I realize I sound a little bit insane. And a couple years ago, I would have been horrified by my possessive behavior. My father was this way with his garden; as was my grandfather. They would both give me very specific tasks to do in THEIR gardens and I knew I was supposed to do those tasks and not get creative or be "helpful" by doing something unauthorized. I've, apparently, become the same way. I now have the temperament of a 75 year old, slightly cranky, very scary old man with a garden.
My husband was helping weed the stone path in MY garden tonight and left his weed waste on the lawn nearby. We are no longer speaking because HE SHOULD KNOW BETTER!
The thing is, the garden, while on the surface a shared space in our yard, is my therapeutic sanctuary. I like it to be arranged in certain ways. And I do like help, but it has to be the help I dictate or I freak out. I am not entirely sure why I am this way; but I guess it because I cannot totally control what the garden does; but I can control what the people do with the garden.
Yeah, I know, I am crazy, unmanageable and mean.
Whatever. Go buy your own VINE RIPENED FRESH JERSEY TOMATOES then.
Anyway, here are the rules to MY garden on Eldridge (I am going to print out for the children, my mother and my husband):
1. Weeds HAVE A PLACE!
You can infer from the above that I do not like other people's weed debris in my garden. There is a small composter that can be used for disposal or you can take the yanked weeds to the weed pile that serves as the roof to the rabbit hole where my friendly garden bunnies live.
(Yes! It is magical in MY GARDEN).
2. You should help weed; BUT ONLY AFTER COMPLETING MY TRAINING PROGRAM AND NEVER WITHOUT ME PRESENT.
There are so many weeds in the garden; but there are also seeds I've planted (in succession for rolling crops all season!), volunteer tomatoes and (new this year!) pepper plants and other surprises and delights that you might think are weeds, but instead are heirloom loofahs that I am growing for my 2023 showering needs! Therefore, weeding should only take place after you've been fully trained (Chloe has completed the training!) and with me present.
The only exception is when the final garden clean out happens around Thanksgiving. I leave Mike to that. It's a lot of work and I have a turkey to brine!
3. Save your opinions for someone who asked.
I love discussing my garden with people who pass by! I love discussing other people's gardens and their garden memories! It is a delight. I offer tours and on occasion, I will force people to have a fresh pea straight from the pod and my dirt covered hand (it's organic!). However. . .
I DO NOT LIKE OPINIONS! Yes, Susan, I, too, see the spotted lantern fly nymphs and no I will not use gasoline on them, that is idiotic. And yes, Matt, I know I have lots of tomatoes, thanks for counting! And no Ernest, I did not consider using old socks to tie my cucumbers to the trellis.
4. No, you cannot have a watermelon.
Look, while I do love to share the produce from Eldridge, I do actually grow it to consume or pickle or in the case of the red okra which was beautiful but not edible, watch it rot in the fridge and then Mike throw it out at Thanksgiving. The one watermelon that made it last year is not for the neighborhood. I did not even share with my children; I ate it myself in the dark kitchen after everyone went to bed.
DO NOT ASK FOR EVEN JUST ONE TOMATO, unless there is an emergency and a tomato is the only solution. Then just take it and deal with me later.
5. Do not just pick things because you felt like it!
You know who picks things in the garden because they felt like it? Squirrels and my mother and my son. You know who is allowed to pick things: ME and anyone I demand help harvest (and who has completed the Eldridge harvesting training program). I like my cucumbers a certain size for pickling and another size for slicing. My peas and string beans, you have to pick often to maximize output! And you have roll the pea and bean vines, gently, so you don't miss any peas, but you also don't break the vine. And tomatoes--I know the day they become squirrel targets--so I wait in the pre-dawn hours and snatch it away, right in the front of the squirrel, so the squirrel knows who is in charge.
Which brings me to the last rule, IT IS MY GARDEN.