Gardening During the Summer of COVID-19

Writing this post is like writing a back-to-school essay on what I did during my vacation. Everyone else’s essays were always more exciting than mine, and I fear this essay is not much different.

While Jon gardened and worked on household and trailer maintenance and upgrades, I fit in a bit of photography while keeping tabs on the progress of the virus as it marched around the world and across the United States. Most recently, the California fires that erupted from lightning strikes on August 16, 2020, have grabbed my attention.

Unable to travel to see historic buildings, majestic mountains or deserts, hiking trails, or sparkling lakes and rivers, I journeyed into our backyard and our garden became the subject for my photography this summer.

Like many people faced with staying-at-home or sheltering-in-place, Jon filled our long-ignored raised beds with vegetable plants. We marveled at the little shoots that seemed to grow by the minute.

Raised garden with vegetable starts and marigolds
Vege starts and marigolds

Marigolds attract good insects, right? We learned they are a buffet for unidentified critters. Jon added marigolds to the raised beds, only to have something eat the blooms and leaves. When a bell pepper neared its harvest, Jon gave it one more night. That was a mistake. The next morning, the only thing left of the bush was an anemic-looking stem sticking out of the soil.

Raised bed garden with zucchini and tomato plants
Oh, my, how you’ve grown

Soon the early tomato blooms transformed into little green globes of fruit, and one of our favorite vegetables grew from the zucchini blossoms.

Green tomatoes on the vine
Delectable tomatoes

Critters got to a few first tomatoes by eating out a small round hole in one side. Why just a little round hole? Why didn’t it take the whole dang tomato?

Tomatoes on the vine entwined on wood support
Ready for picking

The zucchini plants were my favorite, and my camera got a workout while trying to capture the perfect photo of the flowers. I had to document them from the buds that unfold over the course of a few days to the blooms that open wide in perfect splendor.

Zucchini plant with blossoms and zucchinis
Future zucchini
Closed yellow zucchini blossom
Zucchini bud
Open yellow zucchini blossom
Zucchini flower

Spiders in our yard set up camp in the tomato trellis, keeping all the nasty insects from our crops.

Spider web in triangle shape
Spiders take care of bad bugs

And another spider protected our boysenberry plants.

Half circular spiderweb in labyrinth pattern
Labyrinth web

Speaking of boysenberry plants, ours produced more than we thought they would. I was so excited to see the green berries form inside the white blossoms. And then we waited patiently for the berries to reach maturity.

Boysenberry blossoms on the bush
Future boysenberries

While some fruit never matured enough to pick off the vine, we plucked several large bowls of the sweet-tart berries to enjoy over several weeks.

Boysenberries on the bush
Ripe for the picking

I don’t have a favorite way of enjoying boysenberries. I put them on my waffles, in my cereal or a smoothie, and stirred them in yogurt. Sometimes, while I gently pulled them from the bush, I popped them in my mouth. Boysenberries are best any which way.

Waffle with boysenberries on top and cup of coffee
Yummy homegrown boysenberries on waffles

Soon the crop slowed down to only a handful every other day or so. And then one day only two remained. My mouth is already watering for the taste of the berries to return next year.

Unripe boysenberries
The last two boysenberries of the season

Jon has kept busy watering the plants, trimming the spent leaves, and harvesting the crops. We still have a few tomatoes to pick, and red bell pepper and jalapeno plants growing, but the zucchini plants have completed their cycle.

While much of California is still on fire, the ones close to us that started on August 16 are nearing full containment. That hasn’t improved our air quality, though. We’ve had Spare the Air Days for several weeks now. On Tuesday morning, September 8, 2020, this was the sky when I woke up.

Red sky, sun rising, rooftops, trees
Red sky in the morning

On Wednesday, the forecast was for 90-degree weather. A thick cloud cover combined with smoke swirling and ash falling obliterated any sunlight and kept temperatures to 70 degrees and under. And it looks like the air quality conditions will not improve until Saturday.

Stay safe and stay healthy.

8 Comments

  1. If you’re going to have to stay home, I think you and Jon found great ways in which to occupy your time. Oh how I miss having a vegetable garden. Love the raised bed. Hope those fires are put out soon!

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  2. I’m glad you’re having fun with the garden. I suspect a lot of us are not doing much more than coping — with whatever tools-of-distraction we have available in our individual case.

    And, at least you can EAT what you grow. So win/win!

    I wonder what people did to preserve their sanity in 1918 during the flu pandemic? or in the 50’s with polio? Or any number of other instances in human history when the concept of “sanity” wasn’t even a ‘thing.’ I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how we are fairing with uncertainty compared to other historic global uncertainties.

    The fact that we have some concept about infectious diseases, and about mental health means nothing to many, if not most of the world’s population who are struggling to survive. Those of us lucky or unlucky enough to live in affluent societies where we have the luxury of thinking we have progressed beyond being affected by such mundane human situations as plague and pestilence and famine may be less equipped to handle uncertainty than those living in subsistence cultures. I don’t know.

    But, hey, you can always eat what you produce and feel great about that. :-). Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment, Peter. Whenever I complain about the situation, I stop myself and thank my lucky stars that I have a steady income, a roof over my head, and food on my table. So many people lack at least one of those luxuries, and others lack all three. Yet privileged people hold protests because society asks them to protect their fellow humans by wearing a simple mask. It’s crazy out there.

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