I've grown gardens for three years now. Oops. Let me rephrase that: For the past three years, I have grown small amounts of veggies and herbs with varying levels of success.
The first year was probably the most successful as far as my ability to maintain the thing goes. In retrospect, we only had one raised bed that year to contend with and while we had some issues with tipsy tomatoes (overgrown!), for the most part we had a great "harvest" and thoroughly enjoyed the luxury of fresh herbs in every single meal, awesome salads, and generally super-powered recipes. 'Twas awesome.
Our second year, we upped the ante with a second bed. It was another successful year, but not nearly as much as the first. I'm not sure if I didn't tend them enough or whether the weather was less of a friend that year, but we had some misses. Clearly I must've gotten lazier, too, since I didn't take any pictures (or, at least, I can't find any...I KNOW we took some for the blog, but they're MIA).
In 2012, however...well, let's just say it was a miracle that we got anything planted and tended at all in the first place. Vegetation was the last thing on our minds with the new baby. So, while we used both beds and had a row of potted herbs and tomatoes, we didn't pay daily attention to them. Sure, we had a handful of improved meals and stuff, but by no means did we supplement our veggie intake with homegrown wonderfulness.
This year, of course, I'm hoping to do better. I don't want to make grandiose statements 'cuz I know I'm not good at sticking to them. Better to be honest with oneself (and try not to feel guilty about it) than make wondrously overreaching statements publicly only to bite the dust. So, the spring/summer/fall of 2013 will be what I call the season of giving it a go, hence "Give It a Go Gardening."
What am I gonna give a go? Well, my ultimate goal is to just not suck out like I did last year. Sure, I'm going to have a one-year-old in tow, but I see that as a smaller challenge than 2012. He was just so dang fragile (and needy). This is why a goal or two of mine may not seem garden-related, but, boy, are they!
"Give It a Go Gardening" - 2013:
- Find a carrier for Hadley to "accompany" me on my daily watering trips. That kid's humongous. Not fat, mind you...but tall and pudgy (juuuuust right!) and, well, BIG for his age. We tried one hand-me-down carrier in the beginning that let me help set up the garage sale a bit, but he's since become less of a sleeper and I can't seem to get my Moby wrap to work for us. So, instead of giving up, I say "Let's try a different approach!" I KNOW there are carriers out there meant for larger kids, and I'm gonna find me one of 'em!
- Grow whatchya know. This is a big ol' learning curve situation, but why the hell grow something if you're not going to eat it and enjoy cooking with it?!?! I've never had kale (as far as I know, LOL) in my life, so that's something I'd rather buy from a farmers' market or a sale at the grocery store to try; if we like it, then maybe next year. Do we use tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, peas, and a plethora of herbs? We sure do.
- Taaaake a loook, it's iiiin a boook (totally just showed my students a Reading Rainbow...why should I have all the fun having that song stuck in my head? Share the love, people). I'm doing lots of reading while the ground's still cccccccold. Hoping to learn what the best practices are for my neck of the woods, and whether it's even worth it to grow certain items. I'm also wondering how to start seeds (see below) and if it's worth it to find cheap-o grow lights (to start them in the basement...keeping the cats AWAY).
- Is my mother right??? I'm a tad nervous because I'd love to start the whole garden from seed (a. more control over what gets planted when; b. cheaper; c. easier to find organic options), but my mom insists that she hasn't had any luck with this and that she only gets "spindly" plants. I *usually* take my mom's word as gospel, but I'd love to know for myself if it's true.
- Purdy flowers or hardworking num-nums? We have lots of planting areas (beds?), particularly foundation areas that have normally existed as aesthetic spots. Last year, we were in the land of begonias. This year, I'm wondering whether to use these spaces for growing herbs or veggies, keep them purdy, or mix it up (some of each). We also have space towards the back of our property next to the garage that I'm considering -- there's a trellis hanging out that is begging for use, so maybe it'll be the home of some peas or green beans or sumpin' sumpin'. Also considering planting some zukes and potaters in a couple of ugly piles down there, but I'm a tad concerned about our friendly neighborhood cats leaving some piles of their own...if ya catch my drift...which I think ya do.
- FINALLY getting some proper gutters!!! Like with the Hadman's carrier, you may be asking, "Meg. Dude. Why is this even relevant?" Dude, it totally is. Any time it rains, we get tiny (and sometimes not-so-tiny) trenches in the dirt/mulch/plants below our roof lines. I've been bugging the "men" in my life for a loooooong time that we are in dire need of a gutter system (it'll also help with our cellar moisture issues; we don't flood, but it's wetter than I'd like). It sounds like our begging will finally be answered this year, even if we have to hire the dang project out. This will mean I can actually plant veggies (or flowers, whatev) without having to worry about them getting drenched or damaged under the eaves. Now, if only we had enough cashola to replace the driveway....
- Hand-in-hand with the last two notes, we're getting some growth OFF the ground! I've got a strawberry plant that has multiplied, but wouldn'tchya know? We haven't eaten one. Single. Berry. Why's that? Chipmunk thief. (I assume it's a chipmunk. Tiny bite marks. Could be a bunny.) So, I'll be doing either a hanging plant or building some sort of over-the-edge-of-the-deck type of planting system for the strawberries and possibly some other plant(s). I'm also thinking of putting our herbs on a tray rather than on the floor of our deck since a) it'll be easier to water them and b) when I look out our back door, I'll SEE them and be more APT to water them!
- Take chances...but not too many. Sure, I'll "grow whatchya know" (only stuff we'll EAT), but not EVERYTHING we eat. For example, asparagus is a perennial that takes a few years to truly get goin'. God only knows how long we'll be at our current place, and the odds that we'll get to enjoy our labors are slim. Potatoes, however, will be a new venture for me; one that sounds a tad easier to undertake.
- Compostin'. Our original composting attempts were successful, for the most part, but with the harsh winters we experience, it was a bear to maintain, so it's fallen into "disrepair", as it were. I'd like to come up with a more user-friendly system and start addin' some browns and greens again. We were lucky enough to receive a big ol' composting bin type thingamabobber from some friends for F-R-E-E(!), but I'm not sure it's the right size for our yard currently. As it is, I'm sure the neighbors think our Rubbermaid container full o' holes (looks kinda Bonnie and Clyde out there) in the backyard is nutsola. Either way, once this stuff dries out a bit in the spring, we can hopefully use up the last of it, ditch the current container (or use it for something else...?) and figure this dilemma out.
So, that's it for now...ha. That's it. As if it's not enough, lady?! Sheesh. It's nice to get my thoughts out on paper...er...out for the world to see to organize my thinking a bit. I'll probably draw a zillion garden plans before I land on what *might* work for us, but I'll try to share what I come up with.
If anyone has a gardening background (be it for food or aesthetics), PLEASE let me glean some knowledge from your experience!!! Feel free to share your thoughts in the "comment" section and I shall kiss your feet and bow to you...if you're into that sort of thing.