Lessons From My Garden
Our Garden Today
My husband and I decided in late spring/ early summer to plant a small vegetable garden. Though both of us grew up working our parents’ gardens, neither knew anything about how and when to plant our favorite items. We knew this would be a learning year, and surely it was.
Problems with Planting Late
By the time we planted our first row, all the gardens in the area were already well under way. Beans and corn were probably a foot high. That was the first sign that we were getting too late a start. That, however did not dampen our enthusiasm when tiny plants started to break through the soil. With our memories of the grueling early morning harvestings dictating, we intentionally planted very short rows and only small samples of garden peas, lima beans, string beans, sweet potatoes and white potatoes on one side of the garden. As far on the opposite side as possible, we planted five water melon hills and four cantaloupe hills. The lessons started to come very fast:
1. Consult someone who knows about gardening or do research to find the best time to plant different vegetables. Our half row of garden peas could not tolerate the summer’s heat and burned up before we pulled enough for one meal.
2. Make the rows far enough apart so that when plants start to grow you are not afraid to step near them for fear a snake or some other dangerous critter might be hiding in the foliage.
3. Unless you plan to sell some of your harvest, plant only one or two watermelon vines since they crawl extensively and produce well. Ours took over the entire garden, wrapping themselves in the bean hills. They probably should have their own plot, or perhaps should be planted after the vegetables are harvested so they can have all the space they need.
4. White potatoes planted in too shallow holes will burst through the soil while they are tiny, thinking they are ready to be harvested. Enough said.
The one lesson we learned before planting was if you plant flowers in your garden, bugs won’t eat your harvest. Since our garden plot used to be our flower garden and several perennials were stubbornly hanging on though I’d stopped tending them years ago, we just moved them so that there were flowers on each corner and in the center. We did not have problems with bugs, but the rabbits did nibble the garden pea plants.
Doomed From the Start
Possibly, because we endured 100 degree temperatures before summer even became official, our little garden was doomed from the start. But, surprisingly, with the help of our water hose, everything remained green . We only pulled string beans once and lima beans not at all. But we’re optimistic that we will harvest quite a few watermelons and, though they probably won’t be as large as they would have been had we planted them earlier.
The largest water melon
Sowing and Reaping
I’m not surprised that our first garden failed. But I am surprised at how much I enjoyed planting, weeding and watering the plants. The enjoyment was not based on nostalgia as one might think; it was based on the joy of planting and reaping. During my working life, that concept reigned supreme for me: I sowed seeds in the minds of many young people in my classroom, and I reaped the benefit of seeing them grow and prosper away from the classroom. I guess I’ve enjoyed gardening all my life.