Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Unexpected Garden Pests

Heirloom beefsteak tomatoes that I started from seed!

I'm not sure if I've explained the location of my community garden.  It's in the hood.

Which isn't really a big deal as I live downtown anyway, so it rarely feels scary or out of place to me.  I love urban living.  Plus it is literally a two minute drive from my house to the garden.  Can't beat the commute.

But the neighborhood is rather flavorful.

I mean, I've lived here for many years and thought I'd seen and heard it all.  But I've never been on a street that is so consistently noisy and loud in all my life.  {Which sort of makes me feel better about my block.}  There is always LOUD music blaring somewhere near the garden.  Usually a block away and it is louder than I would ever listen to it in my car.  And there are kids playing in the streets now that school is out.  And then there is the patch of grass outside of the house across from the garden.  Oh Lordy...that's the real kicker.

In that patch of grass...it all goes down.

It started out with the occasional sighting of one man.  But I don't see him much these days.  He was quiet.  I miss him.

Then there were two chairs that would be set up each day.  A man and a woman or two men.  I didn't love it but they didn't bother me so it was fine.

Now they are up to about six chairs for adults plus a slew of children.

A few days ago, a fellow gardener gave the woman {who told me she has eight grandchildren but I swear she is my age} some garlic.  I was getting there as this was going on so I am not sure how it started.  But I suspect she asked him for it.  He was nice and shared.  Then she proceeded to ask for things {most of us are just starting to harvest things so it's not like anyone is flush with extra anything}.  All of this is taking place with her sitting in the grass across the street, and us inside the fenced in garden.  So it's really her yelling across the street.  Then her husband came back and they got in a big fight {screaming, hitting} over...wait for it...wait for it...who should go get the pipe to smoke the weed.  True story.

But now things are out of hand.

Saturday was hot as all get out so I waited until after 7 to go to the garden to water.  And as is usual, I was the only one there.  The grassy patch was full and festive.  They all had those giant beer cans.  Is that what they call a 40?  Did I make that up?  You know what I mean, though, right?  The tall cans.  Anyway, so I am getting out of my far, fumbling with my bags and trying to unlock the garden gate and this man with the giant beer starts yelling at me and walking towards me.  He wants garlic.  I tell him I don't have any {For non gardeners- you plant garlic in the fall and harvest mid-summer.  I didn't start this garden until May.  I couldn't have garlic this year if I wanted it.  I wasn't lying...I am garlic-less.}.  He yells at me {and is still walking towards me} that I am lying.  He knows I have some {this is all over garlic, my friends}.  He saw my dad with the garlic.  Um...that wasn't my dad...that was just a fellow gardener.  He says again that I am lying.  He knows I was out of town for a week and my dad in the red truck watered for me {um...this part was totally true and FREAKED me out...how the hell did he know that...and why did he care??!}.  I said, oh yes, that was my father, but I still don't have any garlic.

I finally get the damn gate unlocked and then fumble to lock myself in {the first time I have ever done that- I always just leave it unlocked as I have never felt unsafe until now}.

Then they all proceed to talk about me.

I planned to harvest a few things for dinner but just watered and left.  I didn't want to get hurt over a small bag of lettuce and kale.

On Sunday, I went back earlier, around 5.  I was hoping fellow gardeners would be there.

They weren't.  {I am almost always alone in there.  I think I must be there three times as much as everyone else.  It's totally normal for me to be there for three hours and not see any other gardeners.  I don't for a skinny minute think that means I am a better gardener though.  I strongly suspect it means I am inefficient if they gardens look super healthy and they are there less often.  A lot less often.}

The posse was out on the grass again but they were just starting to drink {a small fight ensued over who should go down to the corner store to buy the woman a beer...they love those giant cans of beer}.  With them not totally drunk yet, it helped.  But the woman yelled in to ask me for tomatoes.  None of mine are ripe.  It will be weeks before I can harvest any.

But here's the thing.  I don't feel like sharing.  And I think it's rude that I have been yelled at to give them things the last three times I was there.

The community garden program is open to everyone.  It's $30 a year plus a few hours of group prep work for a plot.  This includes tips, free seeds and free plants.  They could plant their own damn garden.

They also sit out there with kids and grandkids rolling down the hill into a busy street, using only screaming at them as a tactic to stop them from getting hit by a car.  Not to mention they clearly find a way to pay for alcohol and drugs.  On top of that, my city has one of the most amazing farmer's markets in walking distance from them every Saturday.

They could afford to buy a head garlic or a fresh tomato.  I mean, I've never priced giant beers but I am sure it would cover the cost of a tomato.

I am all about giving back to those in need.  And I love sharing.  But I am so super turned off by the demand to give things that I truly don't even have to give {seriously...I don't have garlic...and that guy harvested it all this weekend so that ship has sailed}.

The good news is that my tomatoes are super healthy!  So in a few weeks, I should have lots and lots of 'maters to eat and preserve.  I mean, if only one thing is a success, I want it to be tomatoes!  I really believe my tomato plant prep is paying off.  And so far I am really loving the Florida Weave method of staking them.
If you have suggestions on how to handle the garden neighbor situation, please let me know.  Should I ignore them?  I seriously think that giving them things just makes them demand it more.  But maybe I'm wrong.  Let me know what you think...


Flo said...

Geesh, that would annoy me and make me nervous at the same time. Especially the part about knowing you were away and who your dad was! Not sure how I would handle it other than to maybe alert the police--do you know any of the other gardeners? I wonder if they are doing this to all of them.

Your tomatoes look great!

Buford Betty said...

Uh, yeah, I'm thinking police. And please be careful! Take your dad with you when you can.

KaH said...

This is pretty disturbing, but I am not surprised. They sound like real winners - no need to share! Please be careful.


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