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When Bad Things Happen to Good Plants

The other day, in the on-and-off pouring rain, I learned how very essential it is to stay on top of maintenance. Clients have the option of taking on the responsibility of maintaining their urban farms themselves for the most part with only monthly maintenance or however often they prefer. The time saved by not coming each week saves money but if the garden is not looked after by someone, issues can and do arise, costing more time and energy later on. Pest problems get out of control, weeds get out of control, produce goes past its prime and time, effort, and plants put into it go to waste. Here are just a couple of the things we saw that can be avoided just by spending a healthy serving of time each week in the garden:

Bolted LettuceThis is an unharvested, bolted lettuce plant, meaning that it has developed one large stem and is growing up instead of producing tasty salad green leaves. After they bolt, they turn bitter and much less appetizing so they should be harvested before this point. Sometimes it can’t be helped that they bolt before we can harvest them when there is too much lettuce at one time- hence the need for successional plantings.


Peas are also all ready to harvest and some that we saw had turned inedible from being left on the vine too long. These become bulky and leathery, also making them unfortunately bitter.

We ended up spending over double the time we would normally spend in a garden and had to pull and replant a lot of things which was unfortunate. Gardening is good exercise for the body, rest for the mind, and nourishment for the soul. I feel lucky to get to spend that much time in a garden (even in the rain) and I don’t even get to enjoy all the goodies that come from it with a little encouragement and support. Some gardens we visit are unable to produce from lack of light or unfitting soil so some clients who check multiple times during the week cannot enjoy everything that they wanted… and then there are some that have flourishing gardens but choose not to look after them. There is an interesting range of involvement. When we work for the garden, it works for us; when we don’t, we lose out on perfectly good treats… bummer. Let’s not let bad things happen to good plants!

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