Because I’m having a hard time here.
Could it be that I got a wild hair to start a garden in May? Or could it be that I sat on that idea for a couple of weeks and didn’t actually plant a thing till June? Is vegetable gardening for me?
I told myself this late start was okay because Idaho had an awful freak frost at the end of May that killed off many young gardens. So really, I was just starting with the best of ’em. I am soooo smart for not starting my garden way back in March, babying my plants up until this point, only to lose them to a frost and having to start all over again….right.
Well, now my FB friends have been talking tomatoes since July and I’m looking at my 4″ starts and wondering: When will I get my first tomato? October? If my plant actually grows by then.
I think I enjoyed building the beds more than I have enjoyed watching things die off slowly. Maybe gardening is just not for me. I had this grand illusion of planting seeds with my children, talking about the miracle of life, photosynthesis, and harvesting fresh vegetables. The feeling of pride washing over me as a parent, watching my children eat their homegrown vegetables including the radishes they wouldn’t dare touch in the supermarket.
Instead, I had a few enjoyable moments of planting, followed by the dog bum-rushing the beds and tearing up my nicely planted rows to cool off on the freshly planted soil. Now I have radishes coming up everywhere but where they are supposed to, three crappy lettuces and no basil. Talk about a downer. I also picked up a few pepper plants that have died off one by one over the last month. Do peppers grow directly off stems? I’m holding out for hope.
And I’m working on it! I check things every day- making sure the soil is moist but not too wet; roots are covered but stalks aren’t suffocating…and still! They are falling dead before my eyes!
What’s a girl to do?
I have no leads as of now. Instead, I’ll just show you some pictures of my building process.
Last Summer, we edged the perimeter of our yard with pavers. It turned out so lovely, they just meander all the way around the yard. The dog loves to walk on them while she does her daily fence check for squirrels. They separate the lawn nicely and keep the grass out of the flower beds. It was definitely worth the hard work of digging a trench all.the.way.around.the.yard.
So, with that in mind, I knew I didn’t want a garden in the middle of the yard and I didn’t want to disrupt the current landscaping with big, boxy beds when we have this path of gently flowing curves.
I wanted beds that fit into our design. And wouldn’t you know, I had just the space!
I started with this hunk of ground in my flower bed. It is the one part of our yard that has never looked good. I always plant something there that never looks right. My husband despises it. I’ve tried Hostas, Violets, Daylilies, Roses, Yarrow, Dogwood, Rose of Sharon and so on. It always looks like an overgrown nightmare. I’ve cleared out this section many times and started fresh, to no avail. When I suggested this as a garden spot, it was met with heavy approval.
See it back there? It’s a jungle! That took a serious afternoon of work to clear out.
The next plan was to build a raised bed that fit in to the area. Since this section is a semi-circle, I envisioned a few wedge-shaped beds to fill the space. I would make two beds with a path in between to take up the entire area and give me a decent sized garden for this first-timer.
I got the idea to use cedar fence pickets from a plan I had seen on Ana White’s site. They are just the right width for a deep enough bed and they are cheap! I used (6) 6 foot fence pickets at $2 something a piece and a bundle of stakes to construct two beds that were connected together in the back. Garden beds for $15 bucks? Not too shabby.
The rear of the bed sits flat against our fence, and the two beds project out at angles to make wedge-shaped beds. It fits our semi circular flower bed perfect. I strongly recommend pre-drilling everything because I was being ultra-lazy and did not; I split the boards all over the place. These fence pickets are thin and require extra care.
Once they were built, I had my husband help me move them into place.
This was tricky. I pounded them into place with a hammer to drive the stakes into the ground. One side at a time, keeping things even.
Downside: The vibration from all the pounding split the boards even more! I was just too impatient for this project, I’m afraid. I wanted them done, and I wanted them done NOW!
I managed to get them into place and get everything level. A few extra screws to repair the damage from my heavy-handed hammering and they were not going anywhere. My husband brought me a few wheelbarrow loads of dirt from “the pit” across our lawn to fill in the boxes. We are notorious for starting projects, so while I built these, he was digging out another section of the yard to lay a paved patio.
It’s still there.
There the beds sat for two weeks while I waited to get some nice soil amendments before planting my huge crop of abundance for the year.
In the meantime, I dressed them up by filling the path with pavers and covered the dead space around them with gathered stones.
Things have been growing so slowly, but there have been no lack of weeds! Here is a somewhat current pic of my garden. I think it is going down in the DIY hall of shame. It’s been on my computer for a few weeks because I kept telling myself I was going to weed my backyard and then take a respectable picture.
Well, here’s me keeping it real in blogland. It’s not all roses and full, ripe tomatoes. Sometimes it’s potential covered in weeds because life gets in the way of all my best intentions.
It’s hot, and my six-month-pregnant-self doesn’t want to go outside! We are now in the dog days of summer and this Idaho heat is relentless. My husband and I kind of give up every July and return to our yard in September when things let up a little.
You should see it now! My tomatoes may be crippled and doubled over, but I’ve got little green cherries on them. We’ve picked one radish, I have a couple heads of overgrown leaf lettuce that are probably too bitter to eat, and beans growing on the other side of the neighbors fence! I never bothered to thin out the carrots, so we’ll see what those look like in another week or two. And the weeds; the glorious weeds! They’re pushing two feet tall now.
Ugh! Gardening is hard work. I’m not ready to put this in the “EPIC FAIL” category yet, I’m holding out for hope that this garden will bear some fruit…er…vegetables.
What is your garden story? Are you reaping a harvest right now, or wondering what went wrong? Tell me I’m not the only one in pain when I look at my sad “crop.”