One of our clients has a tennis court that's been converted into a raised-bed garden. I'm told the person who built it did so years ago. What I don't need to be told is that he had no idea how to design a raised-bed garden. The black ground cloth covering the entire court makes the place a furnace, and may of the beds are so huge you need to walk across them to plant, weed, and harvest.
You should not walk on raised beds; you compact the soil, which is a big no-no.
Compounding this, my boss, who is a beautiful landscape designer but not a food producer, had us plant things...well, sub-optimally. At the time she was really stressed, and when she gets stressed she gets dictatorial, so we shut our mouths and planted way too many plants in each bed.
Also, the garden needs regular and frequent tending, which is not happening, since we are fine gardeners, not vegetable gardeners, and our schedule is set accordingly.
The client uses the vegetables in her restaurant.
We have had a brutal drought and temperatures in the 90s, so watering has been an issue with watering bans, but that has at least been done enough to keep the plants going.
Today I stood with my usual colleague, Amy, looking at a dense forest of tomato plants.
"This is a mess," she said.
"There are way too many plants here."
"And way too close together. Boss Lady admits now she planted too many."
"What are we supposed to do?"
"Fix it. And harvest what's ready."
"Did the client's chef say he wanted more stuff?"
"He has no choice, Look at this stuff. If we don't pick it today we'll lose it."
"I know; he was just such a jerk the last time I brought stuff."
"I'll handle him. Let's go."
We picked three big buckets of tomatoes, and had our other guy, a young pup, cut celery and put it into a cooler with some water. Amy explained end-blossom rot to him, and why you need to remove rotten vegetables and cut leaves from the bed. Another colleague, a very nice middle-aged biker whom I suspect did way too much pot in the day, waters the garden, but just leaves rotten vegetables on the plants. He may be a bit lazy. Or clueless. (Last time, he and I cut lots of cabbage, and he was set to just dump them, loose, into the back of his pickup truck, to roll around in the bed on the way to the restaurant. I explained bruising and damage, and gave him a bin.)
Amy and I arrived at the restaurant, and carried the heavy cooler in first through the delivery entrance. The chef came over.
I put my hand on the cooler and opened my mouth.
Chef held up his hand.
"I have an event at Big Posh Place, and I have to have it ready by three, so I don't have time."
I waited until he was done, and continued.
"This is celery. It's getting woody but has a good flavor, and I thought you could use it for stock."
"Oh. Ha ha. 'stock.' I see what you did there."
"Yeah. and we'll bring in tomatoes and will leave them there."
On the way back to her truck, Amy said, "when he held up his hand, it was all I could do not to punch him. With his stupid hat."
"Yeah, I just ignore that crap and do what I set out to do. I don't accept his premise that his time is more important, because one, I don't work for him and two, we just spent an hour in 92-degree heat in a sea of plants so dense I thought I was in-country, picking tomatoes after spending an hour in 92-degree heat weeding and deadheading the property. Surprisingly, though, I'm not feeling the heat at all."
We headed for Dunkin' Donuts, which is our routine: after the first job of the day, we get our iced beverages, and Dunkies is everywhere.
We drive separate vehicles, and met in the parking lot.
"Is today 'Assholes Drive For Free' day?" I asked.
"Did you see me? I was all 'Thanks a lot, buddy! Thanks a lot!' to all the cars," Amy said.
"They were cutting me off mid-intersection! What the hell!!"
We looked at each other.
"Maybe I'm feeling the heat more than I realized," I suggested.
"Yeah. I need an iced coffee and a bathroom."
Still: better than any day in an office.