Sep 17 2013

An Adequate Response

It’s happened again. The vegetables and lettuces in our raised bed grew predictably and voluminously throughout spring and early summer. And then, beginning in July, our raised bed ceased its productivity. Portland’s rain-free summer started earlier this year, which hastened the fallings from the immense mimosa tree that’s overtaken the backyard.

Last year, I watched dead seed pods, pink-to-brown blossoms, leaves, and then more seed pods fall over our entire yard and into our small garden. Despite diligently removing what I could and adding compost to strengthen the soil composition, the only thing prolific in last year’s fall garden were the number of holes dotting my burgeoning brussels sprout and broccoli plants.

In July, when the first dried seed pod dropped into our raised bed, I immediately configured posts and netting as a rudimentary trap, hopeful that the blossoms and seeds would catch in the netting, and spare the garden. While the netting did catch hundreds of blossoms, hundreds more slipped between the tiny openings, and within a week, my freshly seeded lettuce stopped growing, and a new basil plant withered.

As the blossoms disintegrated, I felt something shift in me. I stopped fighting. I turned my attention to our container gardens, most of which were out of the line of fire (line of droppings?) of the mimosa tree. After digging up potatoes from our newest tiny raised bed, and harvesting the last of the lettuce, I mentally shelved the raised bed until next year – or until we move to a house with a mimosa-free backyard.

Though I could research soil composition and painstakingly attempt to learn which plants might counteract the unknown pests and organic matter carried on the mimosa leaves and blossoms, I made a quick cost-benefit analysis: recognizing that I’d already dedicated weekends and parts of weekdays to our rented yard, I reinterpreted the Scandinavian concept of “lagom” to apply to our backyard garden. “Lagom” roughly translates to “sufficient” or “adequate", and the term is frequently used in reference to material goods, drinking, or as a counter to an unsustainable thirst for more (clothes, books, collectibles, etc). In the case of my garden, “enough” isn’t about giving up. “Enough” is accepting that a situation is unresolvable and not worth the hassle.

In August, I resolved to appreciate the productivity of the container garden’s tomato, pepper, and strawberry plants, along with our perennial herbs, and to accept that cultivating a dream garden must wait. Even still, when I gaze upon our backyard and look up at the towering mimosa tree, and then down at our 4-by-5 foot raised bed, I can’t help but feel a small sense of loss.