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Medfield summer gardening conclusions

The Medfield Community Garden exploded to life during the summer months.

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

As a journalist of integrity (I like to think, at least), it is my job to report to you what I’ve learned during my summer adventure in the Medfield Community Garden.

For instance, it’s crucial to water in the evening or very early morning during the summer months. Beetles are the worst for a garden, spiders are the best. A mixture of Castile soap and water will protect plants from plant-destroying bugs.

I’ve also learned, though, that there's a moment of marvelous realization when the whole garden seems to be coming together. Up until this point, it’s a matter of hoping that you haven’t messed up too badly and accidentally murdered your plants. When you have no idea what you are doing, like me and my family, then it’s like waiting in limbo for that one sign that screams: "Hey, your garden isn’t just a mud patch with vegetation. It’s a mud patch with nutritious vegetation!"

From the minute we started this adventure, there was one thing - outside of the physical state of the garden itself, of course - that worried me: my mom's thoughts on it. I know exactly what she'll say when she reads this: something along the lines how it’s stupid to worry what she thinks of it. I'm not concerned about my mom being overcritical; I'm worried about what she thinks of the garden itself and our work on it. It shouldn’t have shocked me when my grand "it's-coming-together" epiphany happened as a result of my mom’s garden review.

See, my dad and I know nothing about gardening. My mom, however, is pretty experienced. Growing up, her grandfather lived next door. He had a degree in agriculture from UMass Amherst and was an agriculture artist, which seems to be a fancy way of saying he designed yards, lawns, golf courses, and helped pick the plants for each project. There’s probably more to it than that. He had a garden the size of two large houses (which is what resides on that plot now) and took full advantage of his having three grandkids next door. When you do something enough times, it tends to stick. I know my mom enough to know that gardening was one of those things, and that she would remember everything from decades ago.

My mom opted to join us at the garden during one of our Sunday visits. By this point, we had planted tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers, along with a few seeds for carrots. The last time we visited, we had weeded and finished planting. My only hope was that the garden was still in some semblance of working order, with tomato plants upright and everything alive so we didn’t look like complete failures. We had two plants that were struggling: a tomato plant and a pepper plant. “Hopefully she doesn’t see the jalapeño pepper dying,” I thought to myself.

I directed my mom to our plot while my dad and I carried gardening supplies with us. “Oh, it doesn’t look too bad,” she said. There were new weeds, but our plants were all upright. Our struggling tomato plant had apparently recovered and was standing up instead of slouching over.

“You have a pepper bud,” my mom said, pointing to the little green thing. Never in my life did I ever think that phrase would perk me up, but I was hit with a zing. One tiny pepper bud and a few tomatoes can truly make a difference. But the approval from an experienced gardener who also happens to be my mom? It makes an astronomical difference. It represented of my proudest moments, perhaps on par with being handed my college diploma.

Maybe not that proud, but it definitely felt like it at the time.

As I predicted, gardening came back to my mom like a fish returning to the water. She tied up a few of the tomato plants and showed us where we had to add more straw, then pointed out where we could add corn. She also helped us weed, knowing full well that we were horrible at doing it thoroughly.

In the weeks following, the garden seemed to explode. The vines of our cucumbers crawled along the ground. Our heirloom tomatoes fattened up in odd shapes, which we subsequently questioned and Googled. Our peppers, which had a rough start, grew vigorously. Our carrots never grew, but I suspect we accidentally pulled them out during our weeding endeavors. A tomato plant even began growing outside our fence, which both mesmerized and confused us. Soon enough, my parents were bringing home cooler bags full of fresh vegetables from the garden. Peppers were added to burgers, cucumbers were dipped in ranch and tossed into salads, and tomatoes were nibbled on and brought to my grandma’s. “There’s nothing better than fresh tomatoes,” she said as she popped them into her fridge. The corn my mom planted managed to grow two or three edible ears, which for being planted late in the season wasn’t too bad. 

The weeks of tiring garden work all seemed to be worth it in the end, with a bounty of vegetables, and a new sense of success. Should grocery stores ever inconveniently close during the summer, my family will be well stocked with vegetables after two or more months. We are hopefully a long way away from that, but who knows? The only thing I can report with absolute certainty: an adventure in the Medfield Community Garden is a great way to enjoy the summer. 

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