Throughout the summer and fall, we endured endless photos and postings from friends and family about their bountiful gardens.
We looked on in envy and awe at the cornucopia of fruits and vegetables that people seemed to effortlessly grow. Tomato plants the size of Christmas trees. Carrots that could double as police batons. Watermelons with such heft they require power machinery to hoist onto the table.
“We don’t even know what we’re doing,” they say, as though that should be consolation.
Or our favorite: “These cucumbers just sprouted in the compost heap.” Thanks. Now we feel better.
We bite our tongues, refraining from saying what we’re thinking.
That’s because there's something funny going on in our yard.
Everything we grow is stunted. Things ripen as they should. And they appear and taste normal. They’re just teensy tiny replicas of their respective species.
It’s not for lack of water. We’ve got drip irrigation and hoses everywhere. It’s certainly not on account of the soil. We’ve hauled in cubic yards of organic matter that’s so expensive they sell it by the ounce. Sunshine? Got plenty. As for tender loving care, we weed and till the ground and prune our leafy compatriots day and night.
Still, our harvest is on such a diminutive scale, we could fit it all in a doll's house.
Perhaps our little quarter-acre plot is some sort of self-contained ecosystem. Maybe the plants are adapting and evolving, using less resources to survive. It’s a well known phenomenon titled “Island Dwarfism.”
It certainly seems to apply to the plants. But apparently no one told the mammals. We’ve got more than our fair share of squirrels and they are as big, fat and happy as can be.