July 9, 2006

Green with Envy

There are many things I love about being part of a community garden. Just yesterday we had a "potluck BBQ" where I got to spend a lot of time with all sorts of people and enjoy wonderful, homemade food.

The biggest downside is jealousy. I can occasionally be overcome by strong feelings of gardening inadequacy just walking around and looking at other people's plots.

My coneflower above, someone elses below

I think its a little bit like High School (or even more like the High Schools I see on TV) where people compare themselves to each other and talk about what everyone else is up to. Or maybe caring how you measure up to your peers is just something you do forever. For example, yesterday I had a conversation that went something like this:

Black Eyed Susan: "Do you know if I should be adding something to my tomatoes right now? I didn't do very well with them last year."

Other Gardener #1: "Oh me either! No one did well, everyone had rot, except for Gardener X, he's just amazing, everyone knows that. And Gardener Y too who has the plot right next to his because the worms went over there. Your tomatoes look really good."

Black Eyed Susan: "Oh p'shaw, but, look at Gardener Z's right next to me. Her's are huge."

(Gardener Z walks over a few minutes later)

Black Eyed Susan: "What are you doing with your tomatoes? They look incredible."

Gardener Z: "Oh, (blushing) I really don't know, I think I put mine in after you but, it may be the type."

Other Gardener #1: "Yes, yes look at the type! Maybe that's it."

Anyway, you get the idea. None of it is mean spirited at all but, I do often walk around looking at what other's have done and wonder if I'll ever be as good at this as I want to be.

Here is my tomato plant below and someone elses on the right. I only have one green tomato so far and its sooo tiny.

Their lavender and my lavender. Where are my flowers?!

And then some things I don't even have.
Fabulous and strange looking flowers and onions.

The truth is, I benefit tremendously from all the gardening gurus in my neighborhood. They share their tips and tricks and often their plants too. I spoke to the woman responsible for these onions on the right and she said I can have some so.....its all ok.


Christa said...

I totally know what you mean. My first year at the community garden, I looked at other people's plots and never thought I could quite measure up. But now I realize, there will *always* be better gardens than mine... and that's OK. Mine is pretty good as it is, I think, and it gets better each year as I gain more experience -- much of which comes from observing others, asking questions... or just through good ol' trial and error.

My lavender had no flowers either last year. Now it's finally established and it's been blooming for a couple of months. It just takes time...

Hanna in Cleveland said...

The people who live behind me have a giant garden, like one leaf on their zuccini are as big as my entire plant. I have no friggin' idea what they are feeding those plants, but they make me jealous, too.

*sigh* I guess as long as we get food from our veggie gardens we should be happy with that.

Black Eyed Susan said...

Glad you can relate! I know I'm in the middle of the pack in terms of my plot and that's a pretty good place to be since I've only been doing this 2 summers. In a few more years I might be the "worst of the best."

kate said...

Personally, i have always found that jealousy and showing off are big big parts of gardening....even though we are all very nice about it, we all want to see what everyone else is doing and compare with our own...that is why gardening blogs are so much fun!!

Anonymous said...

Your experiences in the community garden have got me thinking and comparing my garden to my neighbor's.

I don't garden in a community garden, but I do have neighbors who try to garden and their garden never does as well as mine. I would say I am in the middle of the pack and not a guru. [g] I have health issues and can't go at it full steam, but I still try to.

The reason my neighbor doesn't do as well, is he is not as committed to having a great garden. I am intense about mine. He wants one, but he doesn't work at it that much and he thinks it is simple. I think it is simple too, but complex at the same time. Am I confusing you yet? lol

He buys started plants, sticks them in the ground, doesn't give them enough room, doesn't prepare his soil. Actually pays no attention to his soil. He uses chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides. He sometimes asks me questions, especially when he gets in trouble. He is a different gardener than I am, is all there is to it. He thinks/works differently. I would actually love to help him more, but health issues limit how much I can do, so I give advice when I can, but sometimes that is not enough. You need to sometimes do it with someone. I also think he wants to do it himself or he won't feel it is his own. Plus I have expressed my views on organic vs non organic, but he still likes the chemicals. Come to think of it, they seem to always be on a budget and that may be part of the reason he doesn't do more than he does. You do have to have enough funds to do a good job at it. You can do it without, but it takes a lot more time and work.

I have been gardening for 25 years organically. Some years a lot, sometimes a little. Right now, my tomatoes are in containers..large ones, filled with a light potting soil and a good compost mixed in, and mulched with shredded leaves. They are about 5x taller then his and have maybe 4x more tomatoes. I haven't fertilized or done anything to them, except keep them watered, in full sun and caged them up. I've had better in the ground but these are ok. I tried 7 different varieties and it is very true that one variety will outperform another by a mile. Some varieties also start setting fruit later. I have two plants with just flowers on them still and it is the variety.
Last year, was a horrible year for tomatoes. I never had wilts before last year. It was the weather which was the worst for growing tomatoes.

Find someone who is gardening the way you want to garden, and hopefully organic, and help them out and learn from them. Everything I know about gardening I either learned from reading tons of books, watching tons of gardening shows, and asking tons of questions from good gardeners that I knew. No need to be jealous, be encouraged to see what can happen as you get more experienced. I have found gardeners to be very generous and rarely have run into a competitive gardener. Yes, we all want to have the best garden, who doesn't want to succeed at what they do? You don't really know what success looks like until you see someone else's garden that is better than yours and then you know you have more to shoot for. :-)

There is actually a lot to learn and it takes time. You are doing very well to be in the middle of the pack by summer #2.

Good luck and keep those photos coming. Enjoyed your site today.


Black Eyed Susan said...

Aw gee, thanks for the great comments and encouragement!! This is great.