See if you recognize yourself in these words from Sharon Astyk, author of Independence Days - A guide to sustainable food storage and production (a fabulous book that we’ll be reviewing soon, so look for that post):
“You see, there were these sheep, that escaped the fencing and ended up in my garden. That took care of the strawberries and the early tomatoes. Then there was this book. And then there were a host of reasons, some real and some stupid, why half my garden is in cover crops or something else. I could claim it was because of my deep commitment to the soil, but that wouldn’t explain why I was crawling around on my knees sticking random unplanted onions in between things. Do you know when you are supposed to plant onions here? The middle of April. And I was planting them on June 26. Nor would it explain why there are sad-looking hot pepper plants looking at me and crying, ‘Plant me…plant me…I could fruit still before frost if you’d just get me the hell out of my flat, where I’ve been since March!’ And here I am ignoring them.”
Sound at all familiar to you? It does to me. Especially this year. You see, there was this pregnancy, that just took me for a ride. That took care of getting my starts, started. Then there was the baby. And then there have been a whole host of reasons, some real and definitely some stupid, why half my garden is in weeds. I could claim that I’m growing them up as fodder for my animals but that wouldn’t explain why I can’t even walk through the vegetable garden because of all the “fodder” growing in the aisles between my boxes.
Do you know how far apart you’re supposed to plant peas for optimal results? At least three inches, with a nice trellis for them to run up. You want to know what I did with mine this year? My four year old and I went out with my jar of peas (at least, at least, I was using seed we saved last year – that made me feel slightly better), where we sprinkled the peas on top of the soil like pepper on a salad. Then, I said to my little one, “Ok, kiddo, use your finger and push those babies into the dirt. You tuck them in nicely and they’ll come up and make peas for us. Their bed is a little messy but, whatever!” So, there I was with my very pregnant stomach, on a blustery day in early March, not a square foot marker or a ruler in sight, throwing my pea seeds out to take their chances in this world of chaos. Did the peas sprout? They sure did. Are the beds a royal mess. Uh, yeah. Did I eat peas this spring? Yes, ma’am, I did.
Welcome, welcome to the garden of “WHATEVER”. Please feel free to stop by whenever you’d like to feel better about your own gardening efforts. Care for some more tidbits?
So, we’ve lived in this house three years and every year the dusty pink climbers in the backyard send out arms of lovely rose buds to celebrate the summer. Every year I tell myself it’s time to put up some trellis so those little arms stop tearing at my hair and causing me to holler un-Christian things as thorns gouge out my eyes when I walk by. Well, I had no time or money but I had several lengths of newly harvested Bamboo (I have very generous neighbors) so I just stuck those sticks in amongst the climbing roses and forced them back to a less lethal setting. Do I have bamboo sticking randomly out of my roses? Yes. Have I decided it looks interesting and I’m going to do it every year? Of course! This is the garden of WHATEVER, lest you forget.
What did I do when we needed a path through a wall of vines and plastic trellis panels for our ducks and their people to waddle through? Duh, I got the Sawsall and we made a doorway. Whatever. It totally looks like we were being artsy fartsy with an archway of vines.
What about the carrots that went to seed? Forget about it, I totally remembered they were there and let them seed on purpose. Biennials require planning, you know.
What’s that about the Purslane growing in amongst the artichokes? Of course, I meant for it to grow there; it will all be out and fed to the animals before the artichokes get too much bigger. I grow Purslane whenever I can because it has the highest protein count of any land plant. I’m smart about plants.
So smart, in fact, that I decided to let the radish and lettuce go to seed last year and then let that seed drop or fly where it would so that I could deliberately grow lettuce in the rows between my vegetable beds. Some plants are just born free, man; let it be.
Last year’s potatoes were a test, an exercise in the name of horticulture, to see if we could get them to grow in layers of straw. We didn’t fail miserably, we simply found a way not to grow potatoes. The chicken wire that held all that useless straw in place was still there around the old potato bed and, lo and behold, there were leftover potatoes leafing out so we just stuck some cardboard and feed bags between the wire and the soil and started piling it up over the stalks to encourage tuber growth. Whatever. It’s sound science to run trials with similar variables but different parameters. As if.
As Miss Sharon says, “Am I panicked? Nope. Guilty? Nope. But only because I’ve been here so often that I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the reality. All the perfect gardens live in my head, and the truth is, every year’s garden is totally messed up. The thing is, I end up eating a lot of food from that messed up garden, and it does get better every year. Or at least every year without sheep in the front yard.”
Amen, Sister. Did I ever mention I’m a Master Gardener. Bwa haa haa!
* This post contains affiliate links which, while they don’t change the cost for you, earn me a modest amount that goes toward paying for my animals’ feed costs. My chickies thank you.
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