Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Mine grows all crazy because I don't get stakes or tomato cages in time and I plant stuff way too close together.

Last year I vowed I would not make the same mistakes again.  Vow fail.

We returned from the lake to find the tomatoes and zinnias all out of control, crowding out and shading anything nearby.  The lettuces were insane-o but not yet bolted.  The arugula had bolted to the sky.

The basil, oregano, and peppers were buried under layers of foliage.  The dill and thyme?  Well, let's just say they will never be heard from again.  My unstaked, over planted pole beans?  My neighbor is laughing at them, I'm sure.  My eggplant grew leggy and ridiculous trying to outpace the tomatoes.

I am happy to report that despite ranging across the whole backyard, my tomatillos do seem to have some fruit on them.  So that's a win.  Last year I was a zero in the tomatillo department.  I planted two seedlings but one got trampled.  I didn't know that tomatillos don't self-seed and require multiple plants within a close space.  The result: lots of greenery and blossoms and no fruit.  This year I planted 3 seedlings.  One is a bit anemic but two are kicking some serious gardening booty.

I pruned and staked and weeded.  I pulled out the bolted arugula.  I tied up the tomatoes with t-shirt yarn.  I uncovered the peppers and reassured the eggplant.

I got a sunburn on my face.  In my own backyard, after a week at the lake with no sunburn on my face.  Boo.  But I feel good about the results.  My garden has order again.  I mean, a Jen level of order, which is good enough for me.

I did have to move my oregano.  This is not the ideal time to be transplanting anything.  I hope I didn't kill it, but it was doomed anyway totally under a sungold tomato plant as it was.  I may have to either move one of the basil plants or just harvest it now.

My biggest gardening surprise is how awesome it is to have a cutting garden.  I'll do more of this next year for sure.

Possibly my biggest gardening heartbreak this year is that I never got my cucumber seeds planted.  I bought lots of seeds.  I didn't get seedlings.  But I miscalculated my soil and pot requirements.  I ran out of potting soil and pots before getting to the cukes.  And I never fixed that.  And here we are.  No cucumbers.  I'm going to have buy my cukes from the farmers market all season.  Which isn't the end of the world--far from it--but it's a lot pricier than growing your own.

Gardening is awesome but the learning curve is a beast.  Lessons you learn during a season can't be applied until next season.  Whole harvests can be lost in the meantime.  For a generally impatient person like myself, it's agony.  My other enemy in gardening is time.  I don't always have the kind of time I need when I need it.  The kind of time I need is time without Ellis.  And I need it when the weather and calendar say I need it.  Usually, however, when the time is right, I have the "help" of Ellis.  My darling child, amazing though he is, turns out to be more of a liability than anything else in the gardening department.  He over plants and overwaters.  He tramples.  He rushes me.  This is the worst.  My best-laid plans get all screwed up because I have to do it so fast before he wrecks it.

This is interesting from a karma-perspective.  I move pretty quickly myself and often rush Sarah when she's doing things.  She's not fast.  Probably, I'm just getting my due for that.  I kind of hate karma.

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