Sunday, July 06, 2008

Garden FAIL

Mostly, anyway. The gardening, I am discovering, has a somewhat steep learning curve, at least for me. I don't know why I should be surprised, as I've never been able to keep much of any plant that requires tending to alive for long. They have to pretty much be bomb-proof for me to have any success. I'm not giving up quite yet, and I'm making notes for next year. As it turns out, I NEEDED a "learning season" in which to screw up my garden, just so I can have a better run of it next time.

I live, as I may have mentioned a time or two hundred, on a barren, forsaken, rocky hillside. Someone did some HEAVY work once, terracing an area immediately above the house site, and leveling a yard-size portion of the mountain (and probably trucking in tons and tons of topsoil, though most of that's been long washed away), and clearing away enough trees to allow sunshine to reach that yard area. So there is a lawn. While I mow the lawn, I pretend to have some sort of plant-y skills. The grass is some of the sorriest Bermuda you ever saw, thin and scraggly and full of weeds and crabgrass, but it's green, and as long as I keep it mowed, it does all right. But the reason it's so poor is that there just isn't enough dirt underneath it. If we have a dry spell, that lawn WILL die, because I'm certainly not going to water it. I've explained this to the lawn, and I think we've coming to an understanding about it. The stuff that grows around the house was planted in some of the aforementioned terracing, and is perennial and labor-free...or else it's died since we moved in. I can't be bothered with it.

Exhibit One: In the middle of my yard, there is/was a curly willow tree. Sometime this past year, it just up and died. For no discernible reason. A TREE. How do I kill a tree? I have no idea, but apparently I'm some kind of tree-killing ninja, because I managed to do it without so much as disturbing one leaf on any of the approximately 400 trees surrounding the dead one. Any of you crafters out there wanna come and collect your body weight in pretty, pre-dried curly willow limbs?

mysteriously dead curly willow in my yard

Beautiful plants grow in and around the koi pond, which was also there (complete with scads of fish) when we moved in. I have nothing to do with that, either, aside from occasionally noticing when the pond is nearly completely evaporated, and refilling it. Usually one of the fish just flops over and knocks on the door and spits in my eye as a friendly reminder. Seriously--the pond? Judging by its ability to host an undead amphibian equivalent to the Vienna Boys Choir, it's doing FINE.


So, the "garden." I feel like I have to use those quotation marks, because this thing is only a garden by the loosest of definitions. There's dirt, and there are plants. Dying plants, but, ORGANIC dying plants. After much pestering of gardening friends, and reading a few gardening books, I went with "Square Foot Gardening." It seemed perfect, and I still think, if you tend to it thoughtfully, it's probably a great system. Instead of me calling Mel a liar, let's just say I don't do it justice. There are some days when I'm inside, knowing that those plants need water because they're roasting out there, and I think, to them, I think (yes, my plants are psychic), "Plants, please. You're out there withering away because of the heat, and you think that I'm going out there? It's HOT out there, and I have coolness in here. You should have thought of that whole "hot outside" thing when you decided to become a squash."

Not surprisingly, my squash plants were among the first to die. They weren't THE first--that honor went to the spinach, which I'm thinking I didn't get planted early enough. Either that, or I planted them too early. SEE HOW GOOD I AM AT THIS? In any case, the spinach withered and died within the first few weeks. As did the eggplant, and as the cucumber seems to be doing now. That's right, I planted ONE cucumber. You got a problem with that? The squash, though...that was downright baffling. The stuff was BEAUTIFUL. Yellow flowers, growth everywhere, and then I went out one day and it was just gone, but for some dried-up remnants. I'm thinking the plants were stolen in their entirety by some sort of gourd-based vandal. I'm trying to care, but I've developed a latent hostility toward the garden itself.

That brings us to the broccoli and cauliflower. Now, broccoli, that is my favorite green vegetable. I planted way more broccoli in my neat, square boxes than I did anything else. And they were phenomenal. Boy, I was impressed with those broccoli plants. HERE, I thought, here, finally, is my soul-mate plant! We weren't in love or anything, but we had it worked out. I watered more or less regularly, it grew. And grew, and grew, and grew. And then one day--literally ONE day, I came out, and this horror is what greeted me.

ACK, the devastation

What is UP with that, cabbage moths (or whatever you are)? What did you eat BEFORE I planted broccoli, and why can't you just go back to that? I happen to know that broccoli and roses are related (unless I just now made that up), but I have TONS of rose bushes around here that are just thriving, so you're not eating them. I was even spraying these plants with diluted soap solution, which is what the general organic-gardening wisdom seems to indicate. Well, that and row covers. But it's too late this year for row covers (thanks for the tip for next year, though, Styro). I haven't given up on the broccoli yet, though, and by golly, I'm going down swinging. Hearken, ye, to the new growth coming up through my decimated broccoli leaves (but at the same time, don't get your hopes up).

new broccoli growth after cabbage moth attack

My other favorite veggie, the carrot, vexes me. I sprouted carrots from seed, and that part of the operation went well. Set them out to harden off, then put 'em in the ground. The red carrots farted around for a month or so as sprouts, but just when they started to look viable, they gave up the ghost and withered back into the ground. The more standard (or, if you rather, ORANGE) carrots appear to have lost some of their perimeter, but to have regrouped toward the center of their piece of ground for a possible rally. I may actually get 6 or 7 carrots out of this effort, mainly because I may yank them out of the ground while they're still pea-sized, just to be able to say that I actually ATE something I grew myself. Or I may just gnaw on some rose petals--those have vitamin C, right?


Corn looks OK, still, probably because I don't care much about corn. The red corn is growing slower than the yellow (or white, or whatever "sweet" corn looks like; I don't care), but they're all growing. I started the corn from seed, and so far, it's the only thing that hasn't let me down, but I noticed yesterday that since taking this picture, the silks are beginning to decay. That can't be good, can it? The stalks are hip high and the ears are the size of jumbo crayons, so I'm guessing it isn't harvest time yet.


The only food crop I've had so far that's been an unmitigated success (at least on its own terms) has been the one I cared about absolutely the least: lettuce. Buttercrunch lettuce, to be specific. Honestly, there just isn't enough nutrition in lettuce for me to get too wound up into putting effort into producing it. Why bother? But, one weekend at the feed store, they had those little lettuces set out, and they just looked so adorable in their little 6-packs, that I thought, "What the heck, we'll have salad a couple times." Well, that lettuce, while my cherished spinach curled up and died, took off like a rocket. It THRIVED, did the lettuce. You could say that it bolted. In fact, do say that, because that's exactly what it did. It "bolted," which is garden-nerd for "grew so fast that it got bitter before it could be harvested." I don't know who grows these things in Arkansas, but apparently the harvest lasts 17 minutes on a specific day that I don't know about. That lettuce was so bad that the chickens wouldn't even eat it. And if it wasn't bitter, then it was tiny. I think I should have just eaten the sets in the car on the way home from the feed store.

So now, we wait. We wait to see if any carrots or corn actually come to fruition, and if the broccoli can rise, phoenix-like, from the devastation of that stupid worm. We wait to see if the herbs, which boomed and rocked and exploded with vitality at my old place, will even survive this place (the lavender and rosemary have already succumbed; the rest don't look so good). We wait to see what in the cat-hair I'm going to do with all those peppers, which apparently no amount of neglect and ignorance can kill, and whether that single, sprawling Roma tomato plant bears fruit. Like I said, it's a learning season. And the curve is steep. So we wait. In the meantime, let me direct you back to my amazing success in the koi pond.



  1. If it makes you feel any better, I don't even have the guts for a real garden. I grow my favorite herbs, some zucchini, tomatoes and peppers (because I love them), and pay the farmer in charge of our CSA to grow the rest. So you're doing better than I am at gardening!

    On the other hand, I have some lovely lilies, petunias and violets this year. Yeah, flowers tend to be my priority. Oh well! Maybe next year I'll put in a real garden. Then again, I always say that.

  2. I live in the city, where I'm afraid a vegetable garden might attract the unwanteds (i.e., RATS!). Unfortunately, this isn't the main reason I don't have a food garden. The real reason is that I can kill even the heartiest of plants. I did try container tomatoes last summer, but the birds pecked the three that managed to ripen slightly before the plants died, so I didn't get to partake of a single one. The basil and parsley I planted (a little too early, mind you) are thriving for now, but I can't say I won't kill them before the end of the summer. You're not alone.

    I'm looking forward to reading any tips you get from the professional gardeners out there.

  3. YAY! I've always wanted to be a gardener, it looks so therapeutic and accomplished. But my learning curve will be almost exactly like yours when I get the opportunity.
    I'm glad you were first and will be around to show me the way when I have a garden of my own.
    Totally hot pond, BTW, excellent job.

  4. Love your pond! Apparently, so do the frogs. I live far, far north of you, so any tips coming from me wouldn't be appropriate for your heat - or your rocky soil. If you have compost to help bolster the topsoil, that might help. Wishing you luck! I'm coveting a rain barrel, hinting to family that they can get one for Christmas.

  5. In the Celtic lunar tree calendar (current series of drawings) the willow represents death and I just finished that one so it was weird to read this!

  6. The pond looks amazing. You did a wonderful job.

  7. Wonderful post! You are not alone. That curve is steep indeed! Last year my corn looked just like yours. We a had a meal or two of Baby Corn... And those seed packets? They are NO help whatsoever. They don't tell you that beans and peas want to CLIMB something, pepper seeds need HEAT to germinate or that Nasturtiums want to be sown in the dust and then NEGLECTED. I think I'm doing it because I just like digging in the dirt... ~annie

  8. I think there's either something wrong with your soil or the amount of water. Seems like a lot of hassle for some veggies - but here in IL you can't STOP the growth. If it wasn't for winter, my yard would look like a jungle.

  9. no offense, but my guilt about not planting a complete garden ebbed a bit when i read this post. i have one tomato and one green pepper plant in a front yard bed and that's it. they thrive in their little spot where the neighbors probably think flowers should grow. maybe next year, i'll make a bigger effort along with you.

  10. I have some grapes growing and they are all eaten by some kind of bugs too. I can't believe they even grew into anything at all because they started as tiny little twigs that we planted last year. I am not good with gardening! (obviously!)

  11. I have no gardening luck either. The last time I tried to garden I somehow got the seeds mixed up and I ended up with about 10 cucumber plants. I now hate cucumber.

    The koi pond is gorgeous though.

  12. A片,aio,av女優,av,av片,aio交友愛情館,ut聊天室,聊天室,豆豆聊天室,色情聊天室,尋夢園聊天室,080聊天室,視訊聊天室,080苗栗人聊天室,上班族聊天室,成人聊天室,中部人聊天室,一夜情聊天室,情色聊天室,情色視訊,美女視訊,辣妹視訊,視訊交友網,免費視訊聊天,視訊,免費視訊,美女交友,成人交友,聊天室交友,微風論壇,微風成人,sex,成人,情色,情色貼圖,色情,微風,聊天室尋夢園,交友,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊辣妹,一夜情



    A片,色情,成人,做愛,情色文學,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,視訊聊天室,言情小說,愛情小說,AIO,AV片,A漫,av dvd,聊天室,自拍,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,色情A片,SEX