It wasn’t me.
It was my son, KC, and the fruits of his garden were impressive. I talked to growers at market all summer who rolled their eyes or diverted their gazes when asked the question: “How are you doing this summer with the weather and water challenges?” The fact that the professionals had such difficulty soothed my feeling of loss.
As a gardener this year, I understood completely the feeling of Don Quixote jousting at windmills, real or imagined. First, I seized the community garden plot, untamed and wild. With (sort of ) heavy machinery (the tiller), I pushed and graded and shoved dirt and weeds into (sort of) compliance.
The Ghost of the Garden responded only a few days later with 2′ high Johnson grass, the mortal enemy of the gardener. Surprised but undeterred, I showed up between 6:00-7:00a each day with sword (trowel) in hand to do battle, simultaneously weeding and planting, weeding and planting. Bless her heart, The Ghost of the Garden had other plans. I heard her chuckling in the background when I pushed my 12 heirlooms into the ground, carving carefully created spots through the drying earth. Every other day as I dutifully arrived with 5, 2.5 gallon containers of water, I heard her laugh grow louder, no rain having appeared.
Finally, I decided to relocate my heirlooms so the Ghost of the Garden couldn’t find them. Skulking my way through the now-shoulder-high Johnson grass, I pulled all the heirlooms, peppers and herbs, and pseudo-victoriously slinked out of the community garden plot.
Mine was not the last laugh. I potted and staked my beauties, fed and watered them on my bright, airy and open porch in full sun. Success was within reach. Blooms arose. Small tomatoes grew. I watered daily (it still wasn’t raining), thankful I no longer had to schlep large containers of water.
I even began to harvest. Just glorious. I could hear Don Quixote’s chivalrous voice, in defense of the integrity of the garden. Then one morning, I visited my plants and not one, but all of them had a canker or mold or mildew or blight, or who knew what. Leaves wilted. Dry cobwebs formed. The plants just gave up on living. The Ghost of the Garden was roaring with delight, her voice echoing all the way from the community garden a few miles away.
Fast forward to the Visit of the The Prince of the Garden. KC not only had voluptuous heirlooms, he had kale and broccoli in huge quantities. Turns out, his dad’s house has a cistern, the rainwater from which gets pumped conveniently (and consistently) into the garden.
So that’s how the Ghost of the Garden is defeated…