I made all sorts of noises last year along the lines of, “This is my first time! Of course I've mucked things up!” and “I’ll spend all winter, minimum of fourteen hours a day, planning and plotting for next year’s go.” Me being me, I spent about five or six minutes every other month thinking about the garden. ‘round about May I began to worry. June saw full out panic. I raced from one local nursery to another, gleaning what I might from the seedlings they offered. The selection was surprisingly thin. Flower-wise I did all right. I usually go for the annuals, figuring that I’m bound to kill them anyway, so why worry about next year? My brain did a run-around this logic: when I was shopping for seedlings, the flower selection was entirely comprised of perennials. “Just buy them,” my brain whispered.
“I will buy them!” I shouted, startling a young man who was tallying another customer’s purchases.
“ ::facepalm:: ” replied my brain.
And that’s how I ended up with a few flowers that, should the Fates smile upon me, will grow back with very little effort on my behalf. A friend from the gym gave me some snippings from her garden, too: chives (which flourished before I neglected them; they’re only bouncing back now. I am so giving them some love tomorrow), cone flowers and bee balm. The last two were very wilty and unhappy after I’d planted them. Imagine my surprise when, lo! these many weeks later, I have VERY healthy and blossoming plants. Also, the Sweet William I planted last summer (the ones that shriveled up in sheer disgust at my lack of gardening acumen. or because the soil was poor.) are suddenly lush and blooming. Now I just need to figure out what to do come fall (pruning and readying for the cold and all of that. I promise to dedicate fourteen hours a day to that end. really. no, really. or, more likely, not so much.)
Now. To the vegetable garden. Oh, the grand notions I had to ready the ground! Our soil is dense and nearly pure clay. I meant to begin the moment winter’s chill had passed. I would till the soil, till it deep, and then mix in top soil and organic matter. I would speak kindly to the earth and sing to the worms that they might dance in patterns of fecundity. We did till the plot... and then we were busy for the next three weekends during which time it rained very very hard followed by cloudless skies and the baking heat of the sun. When I finally had time to plant, the ground had cooked itself back into alarming density. Each bed I planted was worked with pitchfork and shovel and hoe. And rake. And hands, to remove the ridiculous number of stones that surfaced on an hourly basis. I mixed in a paltry amount of bagged topsoil and a bit of manure. So much for my lofty plans.
I’m not going to dwell upon the utter lack of planting preparation. Let’s just say I got what was available, planted it without a thought as to what plants needed what amount of room and, in my despondency, pretty much ignored the garden after. Oh, I watered it when necessary (not often, with the rain we’ve had) and I think I’ve weeded it all of once. Tomorrow I must give that another go. *girds loins* Anyway, back to the poor placement of plants: my cucumbers (which I believed to be compact plants) are intertwining with my zucchini. My yellow squash is all right. I accidentally snapped a healthy branch of one of my tomato plants. My bell peppers and jalapenos are slooooow to grow. Someone gave me lettuce seeds, so I just plopped them in the ground. The next day, we had torrential rains. A goodly amount of my pathetically enhanced garden soil washed away - particularly the bed with the lettuce seeds. The fact that there’s any lettuce is growing at all is rather charming. My scallions are wispy but decidedly in evidence (they were also planted from seed, so it’s all a wee but of miraculous). Oh, and I have cabbages. They’re large and sprawling and - I think - a long way away from actually producing anything edible.
Despite my lack of planning, of foresight, of time dedicated to the plot, I think everything might just be all right, and here’s why: when I was peeking at the garden the other day, I noticed a few wee zucchinis beginning to bloop out from the blossoms. And then I saw it: one completely grown, well past the time I would have picked it zucchini. It was about a foot long, free of blight or blemish. It was, I like to think, the movie trailer of tghe garden: “They thought their land was barren. They thought it was all some sort of game. *pause* *pause* *pause* THEY WERE WRONG! This summer, in the Kilcoyne garden, there will be: Zucchini”
I made two loaves of zucchini bread tonight. I have a recipe for a chocolate zucchini cake that I can’t wait to try. And really, if the zucchini is so gung-ho, mayhap it will encourage the other veggies to bring it. I know this is leaving it in the hands of fate. But one good season could really turn the tables. If we only have a decent amount of decent tasting produce, I will SO dedicate this winter to planning and plotting out and poring over seed catalogues. Fifteen hours a day. At least. Seriously.