Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Line In The Sand

I went down to the beach farm on Saturday morning to check on the garlic, most of which is doing well in my main plot. Here is 'Asian Tempest' and 'Music.'

Purple Stripe variety 'Chesnok Red' is doing just as it should be. I've learned through my two past seasons that soil unimproved with organic matter, particularly compost, will produce poor results in anything but the hardiest of garlic varieties. When the soil is balanced, rich in organics, any variety has shown to do well.

This Marbled Purple Stripe strain, 'Siberian,' is the case in point. This is the most vigorous of the purple stripe strains, one that did moderately well at the Amagansett Farm. Because of this, I planted them in three rows at the boundary of my plot, in soil that rarely gets worked because it is at the edge and somewhat in the shadow of my neighbors planting. In other words, this area was the walking row. Growth here is not nearly as vigorous as the other rows of the same plot, the plants have yellowing leaves, and have had a good amount of rotted cloves.

All the greens seed has sprouted in the neighboring plot, and the peas too. I feel a little bad about it, but not too much. I'm sure whoever has this plot will make do, in fact they should harvest. Having new neighbors is not always easy, as I've learned over the last year at the apartment. I do try to get along with everyone at the garden, although sometimes I hear gripes, not usually about me, but about others. Gripes generally concern petty things, or things one cannot change, or people one refuses to confront. Gripes tend to remain gripes.

I headed over to the other plot, the one I applied for last summer after the rush on empty plots. As evidence for my previous observations about worked soil, I submit this image of the other plot's garlic. Easily fifty percent, varieties that have done well for me before, have not survived. A major disappointment. I've been planting lettuce in the rows vacated by dying garlic.

A neighboring gardener asked me if garlic was all that I was planting, to which I answered no, that I would be planting tomatoes and what not as the garlic empties out. He then gave me some unsolicited advice about spreading fertilizer around individual plants, like the lady formerly on this plot had done. Okay. Then things got weird. 

Before I go on to tell this story, I need to say that I'm not unfamiliar with the squabbles that seem to pop up like weeds around "community" gardens. I have no doubt that this is the reason these gardens are so heavily governed by rules. My tenure here has been relatively trouble free, although, as I said before, I've been the recipient of some gardeners' gripes and my policy is to listen, but stay out of it. I come here for peace and enjoyment, and to learn through growing, and the last thing I want is to participate in conflict.

So the gentleman, neighbor to my new plot, says that he wants to give me a heads up. Oh, what's that? Well, people have been complaining that my plot is too big, that it impedes the movement of the wheelbarrow at the corner. Well, yes, I can see how that might be a problem. He goes on to say that he has no problem, it's others who have the problem. Fine. I then made the observation that, as you can well see in the photos below, that my offending plot edge happens to line up with all the plots, so these "others" can't seriously make the case that I've extended my plot beyond the normal limits, can they? Well, apparently, yes they can

What happens next boggles my mind. He asks me why I have to drag him into this. To which I must serve that he brought it up. Now he's angry, and makes his case that my plot goes beyond the allotted ten feet width, is five inches farther into the walkway than his, that he wants no part of this problem and I should leave him out of it. What can you say to that?

You know, it's not really the supposed five inches of extra girth that is getting in the way of the wheelbarrow turning, but the sink, which you can see. It blocks the pathway by just under two feet at the intersection. I mention this, but he'll have none of it, argues that I am now advocating for the removal of the sink, a sink that has been there for four years (unlike me). I point to its protuberance, but do not advocate for it's removal, after all it is useful, just poorly situated. However, I also state that I do not want to take my plot back enough to fit the wheelbarrow, particularly now while garlic still grows along that very boundary, when it is rather obvious that the sink is blocking its passage and again, that my plot lines up with every plot. 

What is absurd to me is how evident all this is. I should have just said I wasn't interested, but something tells me that would have been provocation enough to set this guy off. No matter what I do, I'm new to the corner and I should consider myself notified of the politics already in place. Who needs this aggravation? It's gardening. On the beach.


  1. To borrow a line from a song: People are strange...

  2. Oy. Sometimes you just want to pretend you don't speak English.

  3. I would like to know where your garden is. Have enjoyed reading your blog. I have a rooftop garden on the Upper West Side, and well - I could write stories about my neighbors too. I would like to meet other rooftop gardeners in NYC to get ideas and share info. Suggestions?
    My blog is: nycrooftopgardener.blogspot.com.


If I do not respond to your comment right away, it is only because I am busy pulling out buckthorn, creeping charlie, and garlic mustard...