I have been working pretty hard in the garden over the past week or so. I have planted out all the pepper, tomato, and tomatillo seedlings, and sown basil, cucumber, watermelon, and cantaloupe seeds. I have also sown a row of sunflowers all down the middle of my little plot. When they grow tall they will shade the veggies to their east and protect them from the hot afternoon sun that will be here before very long.
I still want to plant more cantaloupe, and also summer and winter squash, but until some of the other crops have finished I don't have enough room. They can all be planted over the next few months as long as they are protected from the sun, so that should be fine. I desperately want more space but for now will have to make do with what I have.
I had an almost completely full compost bin which had been cooking for about six months. It provided enough compost for a really good thick layer for the seedlings and seeds to be planted into which was great.
We are still getting masses of spinach and swiss chard every few days or so, and I am also finally picking snow peas. There are only a few each day right now but there will be more. I also still have cilantro, dill, nasturtiums, parsley, radish, and lettuces. I have been happily sharing with our neighbours because we have way more than we can eat. I got some fresh and lovely pink grapefruits in exchange from one neighbour which was an unexpected, but welcome treat.
My little leeks, and beets are almost ready, and I am also getting a few little ichiban eggplants each week or so. I also have some green cabbage and tomato plants plants that are growing well. There are no red cabbages of course, but at least nothing else has been eaten.
Recently though I have to admit to feeling rather anxious over the amount of water I am using to maintain my veggie garden. I am not using nearly as much as I would be if we still had grass instead of bare earth, but it still doesn't feel quite right. Of course my paltry three rainwater collection barrels don't even come close to supplying the water I need, and I imagine I would need to have literally hundreds to really have enough water to grow all the veggies I want to grow here.
I feel like Barbara Kingsolver in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" when she wrote "Living in Arizona on borrowed water made me nervous." I know exactly how she feels. It just doesn't seem right somehow, even if I am growing actual food.
Is it better for me to be doing as I am, and using such a precious resource here in our desert, or is it better for me to rely on produce that may have been transported thousands of miles to get here with all of the environmental implications that has?
I know seasonal eating is supposed to be better for the environment but how does that really apply to us here in the desert where we don't have the traditional growing seasons of other states with the corresponding seasonal precipitation.
These are questions I have been mulling over a lot recently, and I still don't have any easy answers I am afraid.