the accidental gardener

as i bumble through my third season* as a veggie gardener, i’ve realized i’m still quite the awkward adolescent, making incidental progress in an ungainly manner. it seems i’m finding success through sheer determination, a little good luck, and the blessed resilience of nature rather than skill or knowledge.

we’ve made some progress since last month’s update. the lettuce and chard won’t stop producing, even though i harvest several times a week and it’s well past their season. i’ve also been pretty proud of the cucumber plants and garlic, which have managed to flourish even growing up on the wrong side of the shade and in the corner with poor drainage. the okra and squash are faring well for a late planting, and i have high hopes for the pepper plants that are already producing.


however, i can’t seem to coax any vine up my trellises, ants have set up camp underneath my strawberry pot, and something inexplicably killed off one of my raspberry bushes (in a slow, agonizing way) while the two on either side of it thrive. i’m also pretty sure there’s a disparity in soil nutrients throughout the plot, because one tomato plant is taller than me, while some are stunted below my knee.

making progress

although i have a long way to go, i’ve become more adept at tackling the pests. i’d like to be one step ahead of them (prevention mode) rather than chasing them down (frantically scouring reference volumes and web pages for solutions.) like my friend and fellow newbie veggie grower savanah has said, “never before organic gardening would i voluntarily smush dozens of aphids between my fingers.”

my basic defense is finger smashing as well, along with a piping hot (caliente y picante!) “super bug death tea” made from basic pantry supplies and recommended by my bro-in-law (who is also cultivating a small backyard garden with my sister.) i admit i feel a wicked glee pouring the searing fluid down their holes and hills, but i’ve got to protect my babies!

i want  to use my new expanded space as efficiently as i possible, so i’ve got to find the balance between crowding and planting too sparsely. i feel like bare dirt just invites weeds.

lemongrass on the right; on the left, NOT lemongrass

the weeds (mostly misplaced blades of grass) are tricky when they resemble something i’d want to cultivate. i almost harvested a tall sprout growing next to my chives, and came THISCLOSE to actually cooking with bufflao grass thinking it was lemongrass.

even though i know it would help keep out the weeds and prevent loss of precious moisture in the soil, i am still undecided about mulching. i like the versatility of being able to plant and replant without being bound to predetermined rows or sections. i guess i need to decide if i’d rather devote time to mulching or weeding.

a few weeks ago, i took some photos of what i thought was impressive growth in my baby herbs at the time. by the time i got around to uploading the pics, they had burst into the verdant blooms you see below and needed another photo shoot.

herb bed

(ohmygowthspurts, update: less than a week after i posted this entry, the herb bed looked like this. i guess i’m not the first mama to underestimate how quickly her babies will grow up!)

the mint, basil, sage, and cilantro have taken off faster than i can keep up, while the delicate thyme and dill have finally started to get hardy enough to prune. i have a surplus right now for anyone close by who would like some gorgeous organic herbs or greens.

stay tuned, as you never know if my next clumsy step will produce beautiful fruit or ugly leaf spots.

*that is, unless the standard that defines an official season is based on producing a quantity of edible output. if so, then this technically counts as my second season.

anyone close by who would like some organic herbs or greens, i have a surplus right now.

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