Travails in Our Backyard Garden
Here's a short history of our gardening:
Year one: Disaster! We plant directly in the ground, learn that the bean seed packet means that the plants will grow to be not 6 to 8 inches tall, but 6 to 8 feet tall, and have beautiful plants but nearly no vegetables. But still, we love it, and are irrationally proud of our efforts.
Year two: We get a bit smarter and actually read some gardening books. We switch to raised beds and attempt to start seeds inside our apartment during the winter months in preparation for spring. The garden starts strong, then struggles. Our yield improves, but our enthusiasm wanes. By end of summer, we're frankly glad it's over, after fretting for months about diseases, amount of sun, and how much water to give the plants. We go from being irrationally proud, to irrationally stressed out about the garden.
Year three: We regain our resolve over the winter and go back into the garden. This time, we move our raised beds to improve the amount of light our plants will receive. We give up on growing seedlings indoors during the winter, and we order seedlings for delivery. The biggest change in year three: we buy a soaker hose and a water timer, which makes the whole thing much more zen. Trips to the garden become moments just to regard the plants, rather than obsessively water. We have carrots and tomatoes in spades. It is the year of lazy gardening.
So here we are, year four.
We resolved to be more aggressive in the garden this year. Does that mean we should start screaming at the chard?
Hardly. In our view, we want to garden for results, but also garden with abandon. We're focusing on growing things that we know will flourish in our backyard (where there's limited light) while also experimenting with some new plants. We're lucky in that we're not dependent upon the yield (we would straight up starve), so we're keeping our gardening firmly in the realm of "hobby."
Here's what's happened so far this season.
We planted the first seeds in the garden exactly 25 days ago. We know, because we were heading out of town for a long weekend, and we got up at the crack of dawn to place our seeds in the soil, having put it off in the days leading up to our departure.
Prior to that, we augmented our soil, bringing new dirt into the mix and adding more compost from our backyard tumbler. And we ordered some seeds from Burpee.
Once we planted our seeds, it took exactly six days for our first seedlings to poke up out of the dirt. Radishes won that race. A radish we pulled this morning is the photo at the top -- you see that they have strong leaves, but not much actual radish just yet.
Besides radish, we've planted three varieties of lettuces (Arugula, Buttercrunch, and a Loose Leaf), carrots, broccoli (an experiment, we're not sure how far it will get before the heat gets to it), kale, sugar snap peas and Swiss chard. And we have beautiful parsley plants that survived the winter and came back for a new year.
Meanwhile, a friend has been growing our summer plants at his house, so we're doing that instead of ordering seedlings this year. That'll be small varieties of tomatoes, zucchini, peppers and cucumbers. We'll pick up some basil plants somewhere along the way.
Nearly a month in, our only problem is that some neighborhood animal is leaving us, um, "gifts" in the garden. We blame the outdoor cat from three doors down who prances beside the leashed dogs that are walked on our block. Never trust a cat that behaves like a dog....
This weekend, we'll set up the water system.
And thin our plants.
And do some weeding (lots of weeds in the beds this year).
There's always something to be done in the garden.