Monday, June 25, 2012

Garden pics

When I read other blogs about gardening, there are frequently comments along the lines of, "Man, I wish I had the dedication to keep up with all of that." Admiring comments about the lack of weeds, about how much effort someone must have put into their garden, abound.
Cue the laugh track. The gardening blogger often responds with a very befuddled post about, "Honestly, it's usually very messy. I took pictures right after weeding, when it looks best, because I was too ashamed to show it before. I don't know why everyone thinks I have a perfect garden."
Gardeners, even long-time, experienced gardeners, even farmers, are not perfect at growing plants. No one has a garden that's completely free from weeds, or nasty bugs, or has a garden with perfect soil. No one has the perfect conditions in their garden--usually it's too much shade, or too much direct sun, or some infestation of something. Or tons of rocks. Gardens are always a work in progress.
So, if you've been admiring gardens but think, "I can't do that, I don't have space/time/energy..." trust me, you do and you can. If one "crop" fails, who cares? Focus on the ones that do well. I've never had a year where everything grew, or in which everything grew as I wanted it to. The first year I had more than a potato plant and a couple of herbs, my zucchinis took off. I was giving them away. But my cabbages split open and my carrots ended up being about two inches long, if they'd developed at all. The next year, my zucchinis didn't produce much, but my cabbages were lovely. Last year I had squash coming out the hoo-ha (because that's where squash comes from) but not much else. Even my mint plant died, and most people complain about having to cut back their mint so it doesn't take over. This year, my potatoes are aiming to be the stars, and I haven't had even a single flower on my strawberries.
Don't aim to be a perfect gardener. Just aim to grow what you can, and be pleased with it. There really isn't anything more rewarding.
So, to show how imperfect I am, here are my garden pics. Please don't be too disappointed in me.

I sort of took over the upstairs neighbors' table for my plants. I have strawberries, broccoli, celery, and small Parisienne carrots growing in buckets up there.

Closeup of the still-flowerless strawberries.

The--ahem--garden-in-progress. Did I mention that the weeds took over while we were gone? The areas where dirt is visible are where I actually have things, things which sprouted. I've given up on the carrots and parsnips sprouting at this point. Oh well, next year.
The white fencing is to help trellis my peas. When/if the peas outgrow the trellising, I'll probably put some birch branches out there to keep them growing up. The fencing I found in the yard, though, and figured I'd put it to use.

Hilled potatoes. It's hard to see in this picture but there's a giant mound of dirt under them, roughly a foot tall. With the way they've been growing, though, I'll need to find some way to prop it up and add some more dirt pretty soon.

Enormous third-year rhubarb plant! However....

See how spindly the stalks are? None of them is wider than my thumb, which is really quite small for rhubarb. It'll still take a while for this plant to produce nice thick stalks. The other plant, being only a second year rhubarb, is even smaller. (You can sort of see them in the picture of the whole garden. But they're green in a field of green, so a little hard to pick out.) I'll still be asking L for some rhubarb out of her garden this year.

Some of the first few pea flowers, at least on my outdoor plants. These are the things which make a gardener's heart sing.

The first cherry tomatoes to start ripening, at work.

It's really, really late to be planting anything new around here, but I'm trying anyway. I didn't have nearly as many squash plants this year as I need want. So this week I planted a couple more seeds. We'll see if they actually sprout, and after that if they actually have time to give me anything. At this point, though, I have plenty of seeds to hold onto until next year that I don't feel bad about "wasting" a couple.

I did start putting food away for the winter this weekend, though. L's rhubarb plant is growing crazily again (four stalks made a pie) so she let me harvest some. I grabbed a few of my thin stalks to help round it out a bit, and to encourage more growth in my plant. Then I froze the rhubarb, just for now. I'll can it later, but it's been so hot that the last thing I wanted to do was stand over a boiling pot for a while. I've been avoiding cooking anything, or turning on the oven, as much as possible. Next cloudy, cool-ish day, I'm going to bake up a storm and freeze most of it for later.

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