Monday, September 14, 2015

The Garden, 2015

I think it's year three of my gardening adventures. I remember once upon a time having big gardening dreams. Bill bought me a subscription to Fine Gardening. I have a huge book filled with all manners of gardening knowledge. My gardening ambition was boundless.

And then I had my first real garden. 

That sounds much more dramatic than what it actually is. If the idea is to get some soil, plants some seeds or seedlings, maintain some sort of regular watering and watch it grow and produce, then that's what I did. That is, me and the Lord and a few children.

Even though I start prepping my garden beds and planting later than I should, I have no end of joy loosening up the soil, smoothing it out, and tucking tiny, precious seeds of hope in the blank, black canvas. 
See? It's a bit much.

My gardening plan involves index cards and roughly sketched garden layouts for rotating crops and what shouldn't be planted next to what. Strawberries are taking up a good end of this bed which I proceeded to fill in with basil, cilantro, tomatoes with radishes planted in between and jalapeños.

I squished a lot in this bed. Parsnips, green beans, peas, spinach, lettuce, two kinds of carrots and cucumbers. You might know that some of these are early season plants while others are planted a little later but because I started so late everything went in at once. There is no succession planting, early crop/late crop plants here. My motto is "Plant late, shove everything in."

This is about a month later looking at the same bed but from the opposite direction. Some things are actually growing although I've managed to drown them in too many grass clippings. I can tell you for certain is that waiting for parsnips to germinate is dumb and I cleared that space up and re-planted it with more green beans. I'm learning that in my small space, you've got to earn your right to stay and they didn't. And while we're at it, here's a list of vegetables no longer welcome in my garden: zucchini (I'll just ask a neighbor for some), onions (once the leaves bend over they're done growing and that's just not sturdy enough for me), potatoes (oh, I do love a homegrown potato all mashed up but they take up a lot of space for so little). I've benched broccoli for the moment and I'm afraid to say it because I love homegrown peas but they might be benchwarmers for a year or two.
The other bed looking the other way has some very sickly looking jalapeño plants, now that I look at them. It might explain why they produced so poorly. The tomatoes are coming in the best yet. And the strawberries in the back are ok. They have one more year or I'm reclaiming their space. You can tell how thick the grass clippings are. Lesson learned there. 

That's an old iron headboard next to the garden (and another one leaning against the fence that I've yet to place somewhere). The cucumbers did well this year and climbed up the bed. I feel it one of my gardening victories.

 Oh gosh, cilantro! I'm so proud of you for growing this year but you came on strong before the tomatoes were ready and that's just not right. I don't know what to think because it seems this is the story of all my friends' cilantro as well. I'm letting the strawberries creep in on your space.

That's the end of my garden pictures. I know it's an abrupt ending but that's kind of how it went with my garden. All on. All off. Now my garden looks sad. A few tomatoes hang from weakened stems, hoping someone will find their green-ness appealing. There were some red ones left to be picked but someone has a smart dog who knows when her invisible fence collar is off and helped herself to all the ripe ones. Yes, I know it was you, Lucy, because you get super guilty looking when I come around and also you left red poop all over the yard. But to redeem her, she's taken a fancy not only to tomatoes but to green beans. 

We were able to pick enough for us to eat fresh for meals without being overwhelmed. I did make a few refrigerator pickles with some of the cucumbers with this recipe. It was my best year for tomatoes and I canned over 20 pints of salsa with them. I planted six jalapeño plants and I barely got any from them whereas my friends had two plants and were almost overrun with peppers. I can't imagine my life if mine produced like theirs did. I hardly watered this year because of the abundant rains the Lord provided which in turn gave me a lush garden. (All I need now is a collection of Russian nesting dolls.) (Please, someone tell me you get this.)

I don't even know what is going on with this picture with the black border.
This was our last big harvest. Audrey is holding all the carrots but Ben pulled them. 
As though it isn't obvious enough, no one is going to be asking me for gardening advice. But for once, I'm okay with just letting my garden do its thing and not try to coax it into perfection. Which is what my friend Deanna told me the first year. 


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