Sunday, April 11, 2010

Big Promise


Every year, I have these big, big plans for my garden. And every year, my grand schemes are realized in yet another Garden of Fail. The lettuces bolt overnight, the beans don't bear, the corn is stunted, slugs beat me to the strawberries, and worms devour the broccoli and cauliflower down to the stems. I don't use poisons or chemical growth enhancers, because for me, that defeats the purpose of growing produce at home. I can buy chemical-laden plants at the grocery store, way cheaper than what my time and labor is worth--there'd be no point in growing veggies and fruit at home that way.

So here we are once again. It's Spring, and I'm rooting around in the dirt. I'm replenishing the raised beds with fresh soil and starting over. This year, if I don't make it work, I think I'll have to give up. I have reinforcements this time. I've got weed cloth, row covers, and Escar-Go. The baby broccoli will be covered up so the cabbage moths can't get to it (though I'm a bit confused over when/how to uncover for pollination, so if you have tips on that, lemme know). The slugs will be baited and dealt with (hopefully) before they nom on my luscious strawberries. I'm limiting my plans to things that we will actually eat, and a smaller selection of those, in hopes that my reach will not exceed my grasp this time.

Here's the lineup for spring, with possible changes/additions happening during the summer and fall growing seasons:

Brussels Sprouts
Bell Peppers: Red, Yellow, and Green
Bush Beans
Sugar Baby Melons
Roma Tomatoes

That's right. ONLY Romas. Aside from the occasional batch of fried green ones, we don't like tomatoes, Sam I Am. We like tomato SAUCE. So all we need is a freezer full of home-grown Romas to get us through the year.

We have herbs going great guns already--that's something even I can't screw up. They grow like crazy in spite of me, even the ones that are in pots and never watered. We've got basil, oregano, thyme, sage, chives, rosemary, parsley, dill, lavender and about a half acre (at least it seems that way) of mint. I think I'm going to try drying herbs this year, so any advice on that front is appreciated.

I do have a bit of good news about things that made it over the winter here, besides herbs. Strawberries, as mentioned, are looking strong and already blooming. We should have a good little berry harvest if I can keep the slugs off them!

berry beginnings

And just in the last couple of weeks, the grapevines I'd given up for dead sprang back to life. Let that be a lesson to my fellow gardenoobs: Grapevines in winter look very, very dead. But look! It's alive (and smothered in mint)!

Grapevine and mint

Also featured in long-range growing plans, and doing well in their second year:

Granny Smith and Arkansas Black Apples
Montmorency Cherries

These things should all be going strong by the time I'm ready to move away from here, I figure.

So what are you growing and what advice do you have for newbies like me?


  1. If you're only eating the broccoli, you don't need to worry about pollination. If you're wanting to save seed for next year, just hand-pollinate a couple of heads of flowers (paint brush) and you'll likely get enough seed for the next year.

  2. I'm depressed: my mom (so sweet, she was helping me out in my flower garden) 'weeded' my mint plants and now they are gone...!

  3. My weirdo hippie solution in my small garden has been box turtles. I have 3 Eastern box turtles that have damaged shells so they can't be returned to the wild. Their favorite snack is snails & slugs. The first year I put in 6 strawberry starts I didn't get many berries because they like berries as well as snails, however, every year since then has been great. Granted, I did have to build a critter proof enclosure for my garden & the turtles, but I love the little guys! I plant strawberries, lettuces, and broccoli with them to great success. They eat composting stuff & we actually hunt snails in other parts of the yard to feed them. I've seen 1 turtle eat 6 large snails in a sitting. Multiply that times the 3 turtles, everyday for the 8 months of the year they are awake, and it's hard to find snails anywhere in my yard now!

  4. We each had to weed a row of my father's enormous vegetable garden before we could go out. So my suggestion is: have 6 more kids. 10 years ago. Or perhaps you could rent some. Yeah, actually, that sounds like a better plan.