If there is a shortage of space in one direction, before giving up, try another direction. In a tiny garden, using vertical space opens lots more opportunities. In our own bodies (and minds), taking advantage of different ways of getting to a particular place can make embodiment that much fuller.
hops vine, cherry tomatoes and butternut squash
Last weekend, despite the heat, I was moved to make and implement a major change to the back garden. About 15 years ago, I planted a grape vine. It took a few years to establish itself and then had a few years that harbored promise. There were a couple of spectacular years with perfect clusters of sweet grapes so bountiful l shared liberally with both friends and the birds, while still having a marvelous abundance for myself. For the past three or four years, though, the grapes have been pretty much only for the birds. The vine was breaking up the lattice of the fence and providing a tangled bridge for weeds from the completely untended yard adjacent to mine to climb. The whole tangled mess shaded and blocked from rain precious planting space. It was also becoming a time-consuming maintenance activity.
The kiwi similarly was a noble and ambitious experiment for a tiny urban garden. But it was an overwhelming thug and only bore fruit generously once in eight or nine seasons the last of which was three years ago.
Oh how exquisite the kiwi berries were when there were any. It was time to recognize, with space and light and water and time so precious, that memories of delicious times did not warrant the resources the grape and kiwi consumed.
I ruthlessly cut the vines back to the ground. They may or may not try to grow back, and if they do, I may or may not try allowing them back, but as a controlled espalier. I kept most of the woodier vines and will integrate them into the trellisses and other supports.
The hops vine given to me as a present this spring grew inches within hours of getting more light and space. I look forward to cool weather planting and new delicious offerings from the garden.
Could there be a lesson from this experience applicable to other aspects of life? Perhaps.
Thanks to the farmers who come in to town, I know the people who gather the eggs and milk the goats to make cheese. Thanks to my friend Jess, who left a tub of sourdough starter on my porch Friday morning, and my inspiration to make dough to rise overnight between dinner with neighbors and going to bed, I have homemade sourdough bread. With such a fairly wet and very active chef, it was pretty successful to do a sort of hybrid of the New York Times’ no knead bread, which I kneaded, but not for 10-15 minutes, and Martha Rose Shulman’s no-yeast sourdough country bread (in Great Breads).