This year is my third summer in our home and my third attempt at having a garden. While previous years have been successful, I’ve learned a little more each time about gardening dos and don’ts. The first year, I planted way too many vine plants and did not have enough room for everything in our 10’x5′ raised garden bed. The zucchini and cucumbers killed off the pumpkins. I didn’t have a vertical apparatus for the vines to climb up so the leaves developed some kind of grossness I’d rather not think about. I also planted all of the herbs in with the vegetables. Let me just tell you… Spearmint will ruin your life. I’m still finding it in the garden bed 2 years later. I can’t get rid of the stuff.
Last year, I bought separate containers for the herbs, I planted less and spaced everything out more, I put together a PVC pipe contraption with twine strings for the cucumbers to grow up. I had tomato cages and rubber padded wire. I was set. Except, the cucumbers grew out of control and that’s pretty much the only real crop we got. Cucumbers, cucumbers, and more cucumbers. I made about 20 jars of pickles, which came out amazing, but some of which are still in my refrigerator. They need to go. I also had an overabundance of basil. Which was great the first time I made my own pesto. But how much pesto can you use? Especially when your loving daughter won’t eat the stuff because it’s green. Guess what I didn’t have. Dill for all of those pickles I was making. That I had to buy at the grocery store. The great thing was that with all of those cucumbers, not once did I have to worry about the salmonella scare that was sweeping the nation because not once last summer did I purchase a cucumber. Eh, you live and you learn, right?
This year, I bought a $6 pod container. I planted all of my seeds in it so that the transplant process wouldn’t be as traumatic on the roots. I was good to go. Everything was sprouting, the beans were going crazy. Then winter hit. In April. Mother Nature, you SOB. Now the seedlings are outgrowing their pods and things are starting to wilt. But I’m stubborn. I’m going to make it work.
While we’ve been trying to prepare for baby #2, I’ve been making my list of the things that need to be done before he/she gets here. Plant the garden has been on the top of that list because my ability to bend down and get back up is becoming more and more of a feat in itself. Also, I know that my time to plant after the baby arrives is limited and I’d like to preserve as many of this year’s crops as possible so that by the end of the summer when Baby is starting his/her first foods they are foods that I made myself. From my garden. Where I know that no pesticides were used. Problem was, I had to wait until we got to a point where we didn’t have below freezing temperatures at night. That didn’t happen until this weekend.
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon plugging away at the garden. I had tilled and added more soil a few weeks ago, sprinkled Epsom salt earlier in the week, and then tilled it again before planting anything yesterday. I started planting, trying to remember what I could about companion planting from my first year’s attempt. Also, I tried to give the cucumbers enough space that they wouldn’t invade every other vegetable in the garden. The almost end result is pictured above in my crude little drawing and random photo. I say almost because today I got the bright idea to recheck my companion planting sites. Of course I got some of the info wrong and have to move a couple of things. Broccoli and peppers are apparently not friends, and neither are beans and onions. So, with a gentle swap and a few other minor adjustments, we should be all set. Again. Good thing they’re in those pods, right? Then I just have to keep watering everything and cross my fingers that the pods work.
Planting the garden every year is one of those things that keeps me sane. I feel productive. I feel like I’m contributing something back. I save money on produce. My daughter gets to see where her food comes from and appreciate what it takes to make it go from just a seedling to something edible. This year’s produce will hopefully contribute substantially to our new addition’s diet and the first foods that he/she eats will be preservative free and pesticide free. It also gives me somewhere to go when I need a break from being a wife, a mom, etc. I go in the back of the house, pick the vegetables that are ready, weed the garden, vent my frustrations, and come back a slightly more normal version of myself.
It’s funny because I can’t keep a houseplant alive for anything. We have a withering old aloe plant on a counter in the kitchen that’s been alive since before I moved in with T. The only reason it’s still alive is because it is right next to the laptop where I write this blog. I sit down to write, see that it’s looking a little dead, and throw some ice cubes in the pot. (This was a trick I learned on how to water orchids. Orchids that died.) Somehow, though, this garden is my own little sanctuary and I put a lot more effort into keeping it going. Maybe because it actually yields something? I mean, flowers and plants are great, but I’ve got a short attention span and these are things the new baby is just going to try and eat at some point in his/her mobile future.
Anyway, today those few veggies will get transplanted to their permanent summer homes and hopefully in the next couple of months we will have something worth eating. I will keep you updated. Please let me know your garden stories if you have any. I love being able to discuss what works and what doesn’t.